stippling in roses

Kim R and I just had brief email conversation about the difference between stippling and stripes. I grow Candy Cane, Spanish Rhapsody, and The Imposter. Does anyone know of any articles/research about the cause or origin of stippling.

Seems to happen more often in roses with spinosissima ancestry.

Spinossissima and it appears from Buck’s roses, Laxa. I couldn’t find any connection between the Spins. and his initial stippled rose, Applejack. Did I miss something?

I had two seedlings out of Frances Ashton selfs which were pale yellow and the other pale pink, both with stippling down the midribs of the petals. Neither were decent plants, but the flowers were interesting. The stippling carried through breeding once in Sevilliana X Indian Love Call. Unfortunately, the seedling was lost. Kim

It’s hard to say whether you missed something, Kim. However, the parentages that have been passed along may be incomplete or incorrect.

Aside from that, it seems pretty clear that Pernetianas, reportedly in the ancestry, may have just a bit of spinosissima. Persian Yellow is a horticultural selection, not a species, despite the R. foetida persiana tag so often used for it. It could not have been maintained over the centuries without human help since the pollen is nearly sterile and the rose is sterile or virtually sterile as a seed parent. That is no way to run a species rose. There probably should be an X in front of foetida, and it is likely that spinosissima is a part of its ancestry. It would be neat to be able to put a leaflet into a machine and have it spit out a survey of the genetic makeup of that variety. But we don’t have such markers identified yet. Maybe by next year? Maybe next decade? Right now we just don’t know.

We don’t know the parentage of Lucy Ashton or of Ophelia or of Miss Amelia Gude, or … Anyway, there is a lot we don’t know. I myself would be suspicious of Sunburst and its parents as carriers of spinosissima characteristics. That is not to say that R. laxa, Retz. could not also be the source of stippling, but I don’t think I would look in that direction before ruling out spinosissima ancestry. That’s cheating a little, since right now we have no way to rule out spinosissima involvement in the ancestry. If we can find a stippled one with nothing but laxa ancestry, then I’d stipulate that we’d have two stipplers.


There’s also a lot of wonderful stippling you can get from Rosa arkansana.

That is true, Fara. Henry Marshall discovered that in his seedlings back in the late 1970s. He had a seedling he called “Freckles” (not the same as the Buck variety). He said it was about 3/16 R. arkansana and (Kim–take note!) included some laxa through Prairie Princess. But with Prairie Princess it also got Suzanne, which has spinosissima ancestry with the laxa. Henry was convinced that the stippling came from R. arkansana. If I’m not mistaken, David Zlesak found a stippled R. arkansana, so it seems that arkansana is a possible source of stippling.


Thanks, Peter. I have R. Arkansana “Peppermint” which is stippled. Annie Laurie McDowell brought it home to me from Colorado one summer eons ago. I’ve never had anything come from it, unfortunately. Kim


I found a wonderfully stippled R. arkansana in Morris MN. Along the potato fields I was working in there was lots of R. arkansana of different genotypes with ranges in color from near white to dark pink. A wonderfully stippled one on a blush pink background really caught my eye and still have a piece of it. I have a couple seedlings from it. I should work with them more. THere seems to be some reproductive barriers with them limiting them from crossing easily with modern roses, but with some persistence more seedlings are possible.

THis is my suspicion. Striping and stipples are caused by transposable elements- sections of DNA that move in the genome that are likely retroviruses. There is a section of DNA in an anthocyanin gene that prevents it from expressing itself. Therefore, the color is white or blush. At certain points of development in certain tissues, the system can be turned on for jumping of that segment to happen. In these rose flowers it is at a certain point early in the development of petals. In some cells the segment jump out of the gene and in others they don’t. Then, all the additional cells that divide after that point share a functional anthocyanin pathway (jumped out) or not (didn’t jump). Striping I suspect has the jumping occur earlier in development for bigger splotches of color. Stippling I suspect happens later in development so there are smaller regions of color, although there can be many. It seems like there is greater stippling in the center strip of the petal in many stippled roses than the edges, so there is tissue that is more sensitive. This is just my suspicion and more work needs to be done to document this. Someone with the tools, money, and interest can identify the key anthocyanin gene, sequence it from cells from tissue that is expressing anthocyanin strongly and from tissue that is not and compare.

What I would love to know is why stripes can be as prominent as a normal roses, but both stipples and hand-painting are better in cooler weather. However, in some cases, stripes become self-tones (all one color) in extreme heat. I have seen pure red Scentimental roses on many occasions, for example.

Any one have any experience with Incredible? I’m looking at getting that one from Chamblee to see if it passes on its stipples. Also trying to find an affordable source for Gee Whiz and Spanish Rhapsody. Any info on these two? Basically I’m looking for any Buck Stipples just to see what’s in them.

I don’t know if it would be technically considered a stipple (probably more veining) but I have Sunstruck which has neat color patterns. The photos on hmf could be better in showing the effect, but it can be quite nice. Fading is not good but it isn’t too bad with BS (for a HT) and it is a very strong grower - just needs better hardiness for my area but does okay with leaves piled around the base. I’m thinking of using it on some of my striped and stippled varieties and some of my solid colored ones just to see what patterns would emerge. If I remember correctly, I think I have one or two OP hips on it now. So maybe I can get something next year. Any other roses worth getting that have this type of pattern?

All this talk about R. arkansas makes me want to take a look at the hedge of R. arkansas back at my parents house. Maybe I can locate a plant with some neat patterns.

Correction: I meant R. arkansana

Andre, maybe try Freckle Face. The problem with most of the stippled Buck roses is that he used modern new colors for his time, which are all mostly bad for breeding.

Yeah I was looking at that. Sunsprite, Gingersnap, Piccadily and a few others caught my attention. Wonder if something like Julia Child would be a better replacement for Sunsprite if I wanted to recreate any of these.

At this time I’m likely to just throw as much pollen on them (or their pollen on others) that I can find. I do have a few crosses with Prairie Lass that I’m excited to harvest in a few days. Not to mention some OPs on both PL and surprisingly Dorcas (didn’t think it would give me anything since it was new). Maybe these OPs can teach me something about how the stipples pass from one generation to another.

I do have a few hips of 4th of July X Prairie Lass and I think a few Prairie Lass X 4th of July which might produce something interesting. Hopefully, if I get anything from the cross, it would inherit PL’s disease resistance as FoJ tends to BS a bit here.

Hi Andre!

That is great you have a cross of a stippled and a striped rose!! Years ago there was talk of crossing those two classes. What have people learned? I have some seeds just harvested of a stippled seedling crossed with 4th of July too.

Dorcas is an amazingly fertile seed parent and seeds germinate well. Seedlings are beautiful too and one can get a wide range of colors including stipples. I gave up using it as a parent because of black spot susceptibility. It seems that in most crosses stippled seedlings routinely come from having at least one stippled parent. In general a stippled parent seems to be necessary.

Paul Geurts has a beautifully stippled seedling of my 1T20 by an orange rose. 1T20 is from a stippled mom, but is white. Perhaps it has an anthocyanin gene with a transposible element in, but the anthocyanin pathway is disrupted in another way to make a white flower, but it could transmit the capacity to express anthocyanin in the next generation and the factor for stipples.


There is very good evidence that most flower stripes are caused by transposons as you describe, it has been well characterized in a number of different plants, but my hunch is that the stippling isn’t, precisely because it seems to follow developmental gradients rather than being randomly distributed. Remembering the images of I’ve seen of transposon striped morning glories, they did vary from big stripes and blocks of color to very small specks, but in all cases, the effect was irregular and random, rather than fading out at the petal edges and apparently following what looks to be patterns of vascular tissue in the petal.

Of course I have no actual data to back this up, but hey, it is fun to speculate!