Species that form "trees"?

Breaking the usual rose-market-paradigm, it seems to me, is where we amateur breeders can best make a mark, and one that has been going around in my head is the “the-market-demands-more-demure-shrubs” notion. I can’t help but think that there is a market for self-supporting, moderately thornless, healthy, full shrubs/small trees that actually bear fragrant rose blooms for an extended period. (I know I would gladly rip-out a few oleanders for such!)

I’m a bit of a regionalist, and I’m not particularly concerned about cold-hardiness, but rather heat and disease-resistance.

I believe that R. abyssinica, and R. hirtula can make pretty stout little trees, no? Do you know of others with potential? Is there a means for (i.e. mate for) making rambling species more self-supporting and branched?

I would particularly be curious about dense, shade tolerant, or evergreen foliage, as I think these would tend to have more aesthetic appearance in the south.

I used to hate the dense, twiggy architecture of the chinas and their near descendants, but having seen and appreciated some very large and healthy teas and chinas, I am being won over by the more robust of these shrubs.

Curious as to others’ thoughts too.


What about canina/corymbifera/etc?


This rose had a “trunk” diameter of 6 inches (15cm)…photo taken at Villa Carlotta, Lake Como, Italy. Is that what you had in mind Phillip?

HI, Doug.
Banksia is one of the largest available roses I know of, but it is in no way self-supporting. When I was a child, my folks planted some, and years before I began high school, the trellis of 4x4 lumber was already collapsing beneath it. I recall my father threading galvanized steel through the clump and using ladders to try and support them while he muscled the metal up and onto the vertical posts he set in concrete.

Taming the beast was frequently my job, and involved cutting or feeding 10 foot whips back into the mass. Thankfully, they were thornless, but definitely not self-supporting.

I’m actually wondering about something that would impart some structure and branching (more tree-like) to its progeny. If possible, R.b.lutescens might figure into the pedigree of my idea, as might R. gigantea, but it needs structure.

(Is it a difference in lignin that affects the structure? Or is it merely the mass of the ramblers that prevent them from being self-supporting?)

Sorry if I’m asking dumb questions.

I have thought about a “tree” rose off and on for some years. One thought that comes back to me is the fact that roses have been crossed with apples. Schoener, for example, successfully crossed Rosa pomifera x Spitzenberg apple. The hybrids were fruitful, but I don’t know how fertile. And I have not found a good description of the plants (tree-like?) or whether other roses could be budded to them.

If such hybrids could be trained as a single trunk, and if other roses could be budded to them, then we could build our own tree roses.

Or, if such hybrids are at least partially fertile, one might “breed on” towards a tree-like rose.

Alternatively, Beaton (1850) offered a suggestion:
“…I would make an archway over them of a different rose for variety—say the Felicite Perpetuelle, the best of the evergreen section, and also the best of them to bud others on. Then, in June, how well the delicately white blossoms of this beautiful rose would contrast with the fiery red of the Gloire de Rosamene. Besides, one might well amuse oneself of an evening to bud perpetual roses all round the archway; for every rose in the catalogues will grow famously on the Felicite perpetuelle.

For our purposes, ‘Félicité et Perpétue’ could be trained as a single "trunk’ to the desired height, then encouraged to branch appropriately. At that time the desired rebloomer(s) could be budded onto the tree. Yes, this is just a standard, but standards are very useful for those of us who no longer enjoy kneeling to smell the roses.

How about such a “tree” budded with climbing miniatures for a weeping tree rose of many colors?

La Mortola

[url]'La Mortola' Rose Photo

Add this note to making standards of slender-caned roses.

Permaculture Magazine no. 54: 26-29 (Winter 2007)
Planting Hope in Kenya
Laurie Childers

Kinyanjui was originally seeking a way to ‘brand’ sustainably grown charcoal, to distinguish it from charcoal made by clearcutting indigenous forests. Trees grown as pairs twisted into a double helix retain that form through the partial combustion of charcoal production. If twisted pieces were visible in the top portion of sacks of charcoal, government regulators could sensibly ascertain that the charcoal was legally produced from sustainable woodlots. Only with such distinctions can Kenya hope to contend with illegal charcoal production.


Unexpectedly, the twisted and braided trees have pointed in other economically promising directions. The entwined tree trunk is considerably stronger as timber, and ready to harvest years earlier, than a solo tree. And, it’s exquisitely beautiful. If eucalyptus trees are twisted together before they are 1.8m (6ft) tall, the twist becomes invisible on the surface, but the extra interior strength is still there. Intertwined at 1.8m (6ft) or a bit later, the multiple trunks will ultimately fuse but the pattern remains visible. Kinyanjui trains his trees and branches to grow into shapes that will become chairs, tables, and picture frames, without the wood losses normally incurred cutting lumber.

Two or three slender canes, twisted or braided together, should form a stronger “trunk” for standards that reaches an appropriate thickness sooner than a single cane.

[quote=“Judith Singer”]La Mortola

[url]'La Mortola' Rose Photo

Wow! That is an amazing rose “tree”!
I wish the photo showed it in bloom. How would they deadhead and prune a rose like that?

Central NJ, zone 7a

Okay, now you guys are just making this too much work! LOL. The idea was to create a cultivar that grows into a tree. All this grafting, braiding, training, and growing for 50 years ain’t quite what I had in mind! :wink: (Though I like the ideas – but someone else might need to carry on for me with the growing time… And then what’s the point. I don’t get to see the fruits of my efforts? sigh)

Impressive LM specimen, all the more so since the species (brunonii) grows even larger. But is it the more demure growth habit that permits a woodier plant? R. brunonii does appear to have relatively stout whips:

I really do like the texture and architecture of R. hirtula, and wonder how old these specimens must be to have reached such heights. (I’ve seen old polyanthas of 60 years age attain nearly 20 feet in height, so I don’t want to read too much into a photo.)

(Now that is what I’m talkin’ about!)

Would love to learn more about its relative R. praelucens. This thing is gorgeous.

I have seen photos of R. abyssinica in its native Africa where it is more scrappy tree, and less rambler.

Anyone have enough experience with any of these species to comment?

Rosa glauca, at Elizabeth Park in Hartford CT.

Rosa glauca, foliage and flower.

Have you considered the Hibernica hybrids? ‘Irish Elegance’, for example, is woody and upright, and reportedly grows to 8 feet.

‘Irish Fireflame’ and ‘Innocence’ are also worth a look.

Schoener’s Nutkana’, crossed with a hybrid tea, gave ‘Leonard Barron’. This variety had (has?) very large flowers, but I can’t find any mention of the size of the plant, except the note that it is sturdy; “it has to be, to hold up the mammoth blooms”. ‘Schoener’s Nutkana’ is very tall, and can be persuaded to rebloom if the ripening hips are removed, as Kim Rupert has reported. Dead-heading didn’t do the trick.

Re: Stanwell Perpetual
by roseseek » Mon Dec 29, 2014 6:33 am

Karl, in the Newhall garden, keeping Schoener’s Nutkana dead headed did not result in a continuation of flowering nor in “rebloom”. Only permitting the fruit to set, begin coloring, then removing it all, fertilizing and watering produced later flowers. I had attempted to have it continue by dead heading it, but the plant didn’t cooperate. I accidentally discovered the rebloom “secret” when I wanted to eliminate all the edible “fruit” from the garden to reduce the attraction to the squirrels and rats that year.

I should also mention ‘Gloire des Rosomanes’. It has sometimes been recommended as a climber, but it actually stands tall without support. It reblooms freely, and has passed along its vigor to some of its offspring, such as ‘Enfant d’Ajaccio’. I’m itching to try crossing GdR with an orange floribunda such as Orangeade, Orange Silk or Trumpeter.

I’d been thinking about Gloire des Rosomanes too, since it, several Albas, and Grandma’s Hat all turn into trees here – and quite a lot bigger than the pair in that SJHRG photo. I don’t know how often GdR or GH pass that trait onto descendants, or if a mere 12-15 foot tree would do, but unless you have an awful lot of room, feasibility might be a good argument in their favor.

Or to put it another way, if you had 50 seedlings of brunonii, and it might take them 3-5 years to start blooming, would you be happy or not?

The GdR specimens at the SJHRG garden were well over my head - 8 feet or more (the roses, not my head). And here’s a link that was sent to me of a GdR growing in Israel that gives some idea of the size.

Although a couple of the older specimens at SJHRG showed symptoms of virus and were culled, I’ve seen GdR pass the 10’ mark there, with very stout wood. The one I grow at my current location has only been in the ground for about 2.5 years, is in a shady location, and rarely watered during drought, yet is 7.5’ tall, with a lot of spring growth still ahead of it. A recent visitor from New Mexico said that it has survived as rootstocks there too, where it behaves similarly.

Its only drawback as breeding stock that I’ve observed is its low seeds/hip (typically around 2), which I expect is why it has so many offspring noted only as “seedling of” GdR.

I had not realized that GdR got so large. Purportedly bigger than mutabilis then… Hmmm… Mutabilis appeals to me more, but…

I had wanted, in another line, to cross some bronze-leafed near chinas with R. glauca in hopes of working towards a heat-tolerant reblooming bronze-leafed plant, but the candidate I was considering is downright demure. I have wanted to try to grow glauca, but my assumption is that it would pine-away and croak in the summertime.

And how heat/drought tolerant is Schoener’s Nut.? I have no familiarity with it at all, but an Alaskan species derivative??

Thanks for all the ideas!

R Glauca is as tough & heat resistent as any caninae.

Banksiae throws recurent seedlings in F1 crosses and has fully fertile progenies with Chinensis and synstilae.

Best contenders for southern climates IMHO are Mutabilis and Miss Lowe.

Schoener’s Nutkana was completely heat tolerant in Newhall. That canyon ranged from 15 degrees at its worst to 115 at the upper end extreme. It stopped flowering when the heat hit, but would rebloom later after the ripe hips were removed and it received food and water as if it was “spring” again. It could rust in overly wet, warm seasons, but mostly it was clean there. Mine was in full sun, just a few feet upslope from the community golf course where it obviously received the over spray from the course irrigation. Flamingo, the Hybrid Rugosa, generated a very tall plant as did Robusta, the red rugosa. Many HTs in that climate achieved 8’ in size. Red Coat, Austin’s huge red monster, wasn’t a “tree” but an 8’ X 8’ mound there. Sally Holmes grew similarly unsupported and own root. Irish Elegance never exceeded four to five feet there, but it was glorious. Isabella Skinner was a very tall, large plant there. Banksiae and Fortuniana get enormous here and can be grown self supporting, as long as you regularly prune off the “wild whips” they throw continually. In the Sacramento Cemetery, both Mutabilis and La Marne were huge, self supporting plants. Comtesse du Cayla grew overly large there, too, which led me to want to cross Cayla and Mutabilis. I’ve tried with no results yet.

Rosa nutkana is also native to California. And we should not forget the Tea rose ancestry of ‘Paul Neyron’, which might account for some of its heat tolerance.

‘Mutabilis’ makes a fine pillar in the SF Bay area when grown in full sun. However, I saw it growing in open shade (Palo Alto) where it turned into a vigorous climber pushing its way through the trees. The flowers were larger and paler there. I have never seen it anywhere else growing as tall or vigorous as GdR.

‘Radiance’ and its sports should be included among the very tall growing, reblooming varieties. It’s amusing to note that Cook was breeding for greenhouse roses, but ended up with a wonderful variety that didn’t catch on in the forcing trade but thrives in gardens almost everywhere. HelpMeFind gives the height as 5 feet, but that is conservative.

In 2010, I saw a Rosa maximowicziana grow into a little tree that was about 1.5 meters high. It is a pity that I didn’t take a photo for it.