Under-utilized species you feel might have merit

Years ago, I started a similar thread, but cannot find it.
In a recent thread, it was suggested that as amateur breeders, we might leave the biggest marks on rosedom(?) by introducing new genes into the pot, rather than playing numbers games and stirring the existing pot. To that end, what are others are working with/planning on working with?

For myself, I have
-R. setigera serena that I had obtained initially in hopes of using for some mauves (pins have been stuck in that balloon --i.e… veilchenblau and Erinnerung an Brod might not get their color thanks to the species…) but which I still want to work with for resistance to RRD, low thorniness, and other goals. My first seedlings are growing from a cross with mutabilis
-R. woodsii (presumed) of form fendlerii or arizonica (seed collected in Santa Fe) appealed to me for its bluish foliage, bronze stems, and wide natural range (though I presume sub-species/local populations will not be adapted to the entirety of that range…)
-also trying to keep a spinossisima hybrid alive in my climate to use since many of Buck’s best roses seem to have in pedigree. Generally, I like the spinossisimas for their foliar texture, and some for the aromatic foliage.
-I’ve also germinated seeds from a R. rugosa rubra, and will see if any survive central Texas, though I doubt there is much to milk out of this species from an amateur such as myself.

Those are the species I have…

At one point, R. davidii seemed to be involved in a number of hybrids with pretty broad resistance to diseases, though I’m not sure what the current consensus is on that one.

I’m interested in a wide number of synstylae, not the least of which is the Abyssinian rose, R. abyssinica native to Somalia (that one has gotta do pretty well here!) and in R. soulieana for its bluish foliage and health.

I’m seeking R. multibracteata (if it will survive here) as a tetraploid relative to rugosa, Can’t help but wonder how this one might work in some hulthemia lines.

Also seeking hips/seeds/cutting of good morphs of R. glauca (if they will survive here) to mix with roses with bluish or bronze foliage.
Other N. American species that I would like to acquire include R. carolinia (which appears to have attractive, healthy foliage) and R. foliolosa (which has created some mauve-flowered progeny, I believe).

Not that I have the garden space for all (or really, any) of that…

That’s kind of all over the place right now, I realize. I haven’t really narrowed my focus yet! LOL.

Are other folks working with or seeking any species that are out of the ordinary? Thoughts, impressions and experiences?

‘Veilchenblau’ was a direct (OP) seedling of ‘Crimson Rambler’, according to the Schmidt. I think the alleged connection with ‘Erinnerung an Brod’ happened because Geschwind described the color of the latter as “veilchenblau”; that is, violet blue - the color of March violets.

As for ‘Erinnerung an Brod’, I am guessing that it was bred from Feast’s Rubifolia (Setigera) hybrid, ‘Pink Perpetual’. This variety was not really perpetual, but the color turned purple as the blooms aged. Geschwind wrote that ‘Perpetual Pink’ was the only Rubifolia hybrid that was suitable for use as a mourning rose. He recommended ‘Erinnerung an Brod’ for the same use.

And so, the purple tones must have come from the pollen parent of ‘Perpetual Pink’, rather than from R. setigera.

Van Fleet’s observations suggest that while R. setigera gave some useful hybrid offspring when crossed with (mostly) Noisettes, it is usually better when crossed with another Synstyle. The hybrid can then be used for further breeding. For instance, a cross of Setigera with Wichuraiana was crossed with a red Floribunda-like rose to give ‘American Pillar’. And a cross with Soulieana was mated with a Wichuraiana-Devoniensis hybrid to give a pillar rose that picked out the best qualities of its grandparents


I’ll just go ahead and tag you, Karl, as that pin-wielding balloon popper. :wink:
I have Veilchenblau, but evidently, I should have gotten Violette instead. Have yet to have the opportunity to use Vb. (it isn’t mature enough yet.) Same goes for EaB which I just acquired this spring in a trade.

Philip, I can send you some dried I.X.L. pollen if you’re ready to use it and would like to have it. 'Ixl' Rose

I was just thinking of the species-modern path as I was driving around the field tonight.

My main thought was that it takes a lot of time and a lot of patience and a lot of space to bridge back to go down the road of integrating new species. I’m giving it a good go and I have an amazingly luck setup in which to do it…I have people to weed for me and my dad cultivates.

The two primary weaknesses that species tend to contribute are a lack of remontancy (along with the possible specter of added genes for delayed remontancy a la rugosas) and short petal longevity. The blossoms of most species roses last only one day. These weaknesses are challenging to breed out.

An important caveat when discussing species roses is that the variation from plant to plant means that my R. foliolosa might be significanty different from your R. foliolosa. Any generalizations about a particular species must be understood to have this vulnerability. I am not sure of the right word to refer to one particular plant of a species. “Clone” is not appropriate, because they’ve not necessarily been cloned. Specimen? Genotype?

The common advice that species roses are best used as pollen parents is, in general, borne out by my experience. Some species are hesitant to accept pollen from modern roses. Another factor is that, when crossing with a remontant parent, it is easier to sort out successful crosses when using the remontant parent as the seed parent. Accidental selfs will then reveal themselves with juvenile bloom. Self-pollinations of a species rose used as a seed parent will be much harder to detect because none of the seedlings will be remontant.

A lot of thoughts on specific species:

R. davidii - I, too, am curious about this one. My young R. davidii was hardy to the very tips this last winter, a zone 3/4 winter. Too soon to evaluate health, but no disease yet. The blossoms are tiny and quickly melt. Although it’s listed as a tetraploid, my specimen really seems diploid (small leaves, small pollen grains). I have used its pollen for the first time this year, and it seems very fertile.

R. acicularis: My specimens of R. acicularis also seem diploid. They are very different from Robert Erskine’s “Aurora”, which is supposedly a selection of acicularis. Smaller leaves, fine textured stems. Hardy to the tips every winter. A nice raspberry scent en masse that I haven’t determined if comes from the blossoms or the foliage. Probably imparts susceptibility to blackspot. Probably best used as pollen parent. Seeds need a significant warm stratification period in order to germinate.

R. woodsii: Very hardy, but some irregular dieback compared to R. acicularis. Often gets scruffy foliage later in summer - cercospora? The few crosses I’ve had show very good hardiness. Probably best used as the pollen parent.

R. virginiana and R. carolina. I purchased these two species from Lawyer Nurseries as bare root plants in bundles of 25 or 50. I selected the least thorny and planted out five of each. It is nearly impossible for me to tell the difference between the two species, but the R. virginiana showed more mildew and rust than the R. carolina so I’ve moved on to using R. carolina. I have grown outdoor seedling beds of the two and selected the healthiest and/or least thorny of the seedlings to grow on. I’ve made valiant attempts to use them as seed parents, with a few successes, but would definitely not recommend going that direction unless you have a ton of space and patience. It can take two or three years to gauge if a seedling was a successful cross. My roses of these species can have some dieback in my Zone 3b, but usually not much. I love their tenaciously healthy foliage (excepting mildew and rust), and how modern it looks. As tetraploids they should combine well with modern roses. They have a reputation for allowing yellow to come through in a cross, which happened with my crosses with First Impression and Lemon Fizz. They’ll generate seedlings of enormous vigor and long, upright canes. Watch out for “preferential pairing” when trying to recover rebloom…the percentage can be much much lower than the genetic math would suggest. In general I feel these have huge potential for adding hardiness, health, and lovely foliage but it is difficult to recover rebloom.

R. foliolosa: Pierre from France has warned on this forum of the difficulty of breeding out the thin, short-lived petals and other negative characteristics that come from this species, and that might be true. Because it was so late to bloom and quick to form seed I found myself using this rose way too much…it bloomed when I finally had time to pollinate. I can’t remember where I got my specimen, but it was light pink as opposed to the dark purple specimen that Paul Barden has mentioned having. My specimen worked very well as a seed parent and it actually gave a few remontant seedlings when crossed with modern roses. I have remontant seedlings of R. foliolosa x Will Alderman, Catherine Guelda, Lemon Fizz, and Commander Gillette. The only of those I’ve used further in crosses is the x Commander Gillette, which I call FOLIOCOM. I have a few remontant FOLIOCOM crosses this spring which are interesting but might have inherited the short-lived petal trait. I am speaking of my R. foliolosa in past tense because it got taken over by grass and thistle and I dug it out. If the species as a whole allows rebloom in first generation crosses it might be valuable.

R. rugosa: For me, rugosas are the only roses that combine full hardiness with real remontancy. They are generally chlorotic in my alkaline soil. Very different than working with other species. There are so many rugosa hybrids out there that your experience might vary depending upon which cultivar you choose to work with. I’ve worked some with Rugosa #3, Ruglauca, Henry Hudson, Belle Poitevine, Hansa (failed completely as seed parent), and Will Alderman. Their tendency towards self-sterility is very handy, because you can pollinate freshly opened blossoms that have started to release their own pollen and still end up with successful crosses. Not every hip takes, but when they do you get a lot of seeds that germinate. Delayed remontancy is a bitch, because it makes selecting seedlings at a young age difficult. Sterility of the F1’s is a huge problem. I’ve gotten some very interesting remontant seedlings from Belle Poitevine and R#3 but they were totally sterile. Interesting in the sense that they were very hardy and fully remontant. Same sterility in two remontant seedlings of Henry Hudson x Above & Beyond, which are shrubby and healthy. Belle Poitevine has a tendency of producing seedlings that are a brighter, more vivid pink than either parent. I have lots of very interesting once-blooming OP seedlings of Henry Hudson…several nearly thornless and tip hardy to eight feet, one a warm salmon-pink. I can see why hybridizers have often used Schneezwerg (Henry Hudson’s grandma). I grubbed out my HH, too, or else I’d be using it more. Will Alderman did not set hips with controlled pollination but my plant is growing amidst modern roses and a batch of OP seeds this spring has a surprising amount of juvenile rebloom. Of course the blooming seedlings are showing far less vigor than the others. My Will Alderman itself is chlorotic and suckering like a nightmare, but I’d like to try it some more. I’m still feeling out how to try to move forward with rugosas.

R. gallica: I used the Apothecary’s Rose in many of my early crosses, and I’ve used Tuscany Superb a little bit. They seem to impart vigor and hardiness beyond themselves, but the same problems recovering remontancy are there as when using other tetraploid species roses such as R. carolina.

R. nitida: I loooove my specimen of R. nitida. It is so damned shrubby - perfectly rounded form with shiny foliage and great fall color. It gets some spotting on the leaves, maybe cercospora, but they don’t turn yellow and fall off - horizontal resistance? This was my pollination baby last year and I tried it extensively as a seed parent. I finally figured out the seeds need a long warm stratification period to germinate, so this is the first season I have any seedlings from it. Only time will tell if they are successful crosses, but there does appear to be some variation from pollen parent to pollen parent, so I’m hopeful. I’m hoping that, as a diploid, it will be easier to recover rebloom in the F2 than with R. carolina. My plant of Prairie Joy x (Orangeade x R. nitida) is way hardier than Prairie Joy itself, which seems odd given that Orangeade x R. nitida should have only been 1/3 R. nitida. It has lovely foliage. So maybe the R. nitida influence is strong and continuing to the next generations.

R. arkansana - Mine came from Lawyer. Get this garbage out of my garden. Low vigor, disease, no female fertility. Apparently in the background of the horridly unhealthy Morden roses.

R. xanthina - not hardy.

R. whatever it is that grows around here: Somehow a Prairie Joy x this species ended up remontant and hardy with large, double, deep pink blossoms. Gets blackspot worse than Prairie Joy. I’m not super careful with my pollen, but I can’t figure out what else could have pollinated it.

R. fedschenkoana - didn’t do well for me, sorry Kim.

R. beggeriana - horrid thorns, poor health, tiny white blossoms. What’s to love? Julie O’s specimen looked vastly different than mine, however.

R. setigera var. Serena:

Appeared to set tons of OP seed, but none of them germinated for me or for Warren when I sent to him.

However, seed from controlled crosses germinated to a small degree: I have five Serena X Darlow’s Enigma and one Serena X Cherry Frost. See pics below of the X Cherry Frost. The blooms of the Serena x Cherry Frost do not appear to have anthers at all. That cross seems to violate the rule that R. setigera only accepts Synstylae pollen. None of the seedlings are thornless.

I remember when visiting Will Radler’s yard several years ago seeing a huge Serena smothered with tinfoil.

R. clinophylla for those of us in the warmer climates. Seeing as it grows in one warmest ranges for roses and survives flooding there’s potential there. I think the only source of it in Australia may be Simon who’s been MIA so may not be able to get access to it.

R. micrantha, an alternative to R. rubiginosa, a bit smaller, possibly easier to work with. Probably has the same canina meiosis to overcome though. The only retail option for it closed, it’s stock was being relocated so it might turn up in future years.

R. primula, R. palustris, R. nitida and R. forrestiana, none have many offspring but all have some interesting traits.

I’ve added, Nieuwesteegii (R. foliolosa × R. willmottiae with continuous bloom) and R. helenae to my breeding pool this year.

Micrugosa is also of interest because it’s one of the few R. roxburghii hybrids to show obvious influence.

Well, i popped my own balloon on this matter long ago. I even had the idea of using R. setigera to breed a hardy race of Noisette-like roses. Then I learned that Feast and Pierce beat me to that one way back in the 19th century.

Have you considered ‘Donau!’ ? That would get you some ‘Erinnerung an Brod’ ancestry, along with some Wichuraiana and Multiflora (Crimson Rambler). The glossy leaves aren’t quite as mildew resistant as one might like, but the color is good. I have seen it only at Santa Clara, where even ‘New Dawn’ gets mildew.

Oh, and ‘Sweet Chariot’ is a Dwarf Polyantha bred from ‘Violette’, which is handy if you are looking for rebloom.

I know several breeders were experimenting with R. tunquinenses, R. clinophylla, and R. sinowilsonii, to name a few other species. Can folks report on their findings/results? I cannot help but the the Synstylae in general hold a lot of untapped potential. (Don’t ask me why…)
Joe, I didn’t realize davidii was that cold hardy. Good to hear. Have you worked with R. Soulieana yet? Your setigera seedling definitely lacks the serena aspect, but shows what I gather is a fairly common flower form from f1’s of the species. I wonder if the thornlessness might return in subsequent selfs, or other crosses?..
Kim, IXL’s reputation for burning is a little discouraging to a guy in Central Texas where we get a good 30+ days of triple digits. I think Violette might have a tad more appeal to me as a prospective breeder, though the idea of grafting tall tree roses sounds kinda fun. (Does Legacy by any chance work for that? Or Basye’s “fortunia” amphidiploid?)

I imagine Legacy would probably work, Philip. I have hesitated to do anything like that with any original Basye material due to Malcolm Manners’ statements that Basye insisted upon using his RMV infected Fortuniana to bud everything on. Malcolm said he offered repeatedly to clean Basye’s Fortuniana but a supposedly indexed Fortuniana had previously “made the rounds” and was found severely lacking, so Basye refused every offer. Though I have never observed any symptoms on any Basye rose I have grown, I prefer not to take those chances. Instead, I root my hybrids of them and explore their potential. I can tell you that at least up to second generation Legacy hybrids, the root systems are MASSIVE. They should make remarkable stocks. I have also used Blue for You X Indian Love Call and found it to be an easy one to bud. It roots easily and grows very vigorously. Plus, it’s pretty and highly scented. I have a four foot standard of “the black seedling” (Indian Love Call X L56-1) I am deciding what to try budding on it. The plant is thornless, ultra vigorous, excellent foliage and appears to be repeating, now it’s let loose in a fifteen gallon can of new soil.

Here’s an odd one:

The New Plantsman 1(1): 10-13 (March 1994)
Rosa roxburghii: the species, its forms and hybrids
Graham Stuart Thomas
Sir Frederick Stern hybridized R. roxburghii with R. sinowilsonii Hemsl. which is a very vigorous, but tender, species of section Synstylae DC. of the genus. It has magnificent foliage and trusses of small white flowers. It is difficult to envisage the reasoning behind this cross, but the result, ‘Roxane’, which still grows in Stern’s garden at Highdown in Sussex, has made a good bush to about 1.5 m in height and width. It produces plentiful, single, flat, deep pink flowers at midsummer, well displayed over glossy, light green foliage. The heps are green and prickly.

Here are a couple.
The first is seedling S1 T5 (Rosa tunquinensis X Lorraine Lee) repeat flowering
The second is a species hybrid which has provided me with a good bridging rose (R.willmottiae X R.forrestiana)
S1 T5.jpg

I’m using R. palustris a good bit, but it can be quite stubborn.

This cross was done in 2017 and is R. palustris x R. roxburghii normalis. The foliage is a nice intermediate between the two parents. It has a sibling from the same hip that doesn’t look very much like a true hybrid, but that sibling did manage to outgrow damping off, a trait the I would attribute to R. palustris.

Picture of the siblings together

I don’t know what to suggest it might offer, but I have extra pollen of R. X Actii, Wichurana X Hugonis, available for Continental US mail. 'Rosa X actii' Rose

That is a really interesting hybrid. Why does it bloom now? Hugonis is really early blooming and I thought wichurana was only moderately late. Maybe I was fooled by Dr. van Fleet bloom time. Or i this a second flush?

Nothing is flowering as expected, Larry. Friends up above Santa Rosa said they had zero blooms on their dozens of apples. Plenty of water, plenty of winter chill, just no flowers. R Xanthina is flowering for the third time this year. Primula has been spotting flowers for months. One here, one there, then several. Both of the double Hugonis seedlings are flowering…again.
We’ve had a long, relatively cold spring with a few days above the low seventies, two above eighty and today (and supposedly tomorrow) in the mid to high nineties, though it only felt that hot in the direct sun between noon and 1 PM.

I’m curious Kim, is it the L56-1 that permits that dark coloring, do you think? It’s rather surprising to me with the other parents in the lineage, but I have no experience with any of them. I like that deep wine coloring.

Warren, to my eye, the round leaflets of the second seedling are appealing. I’m not at all familiar with either of those species either. Do they impart a lot of health? And does R. tunquinensis frequently give F1’s that repeat??

In general, I probably should have inquired about the aspects that folks have found, or speculated, that certain species impart. I’m growing my first seedlings from setigera, and all I can say at this point is they are quite leggy and vigorous, but they didn’t get serena thornlessness. Climbers, presumably, of the few I have. From the limited offspring with which I’m familiar, I don’t anticipate the species imparting a ton of disease resistance, but I’m hopeful that the purported relative resistance to RRD might play through. I will say that the setigera seedlings have fewer (if any) e.g. whiteflies than my other seedlings growing with them, and I wonder if they might just be relatively less appealing to the vector species for the RRD disease.

At one point, I really wanted to play with palustris, and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t keep info I had found on a few hybrids. I’m only seeing some odd crosses with rugosas right now, in a quick search (coriander scent? That’s interesting…) but it would seem to have some interesting attributes to potentially contribute to offspring. Have a lot of folks been playing with this one? (Wondering what kind of range one gets crossing a swamp rose with a relatively xeric species…) I assume you have not yet had blooms on the roxburghii seedling.

Kim, I find that x actii interesting as a novelty, but I’m curious if you’ve found a lot of merit in pimping it out. It’s one of those seedlings that makes me go, “That’s really interesting…” but leaves me scratching my head wondering about its potential. Your thoughts? (I LOVE your dbl hugonis seedlings.)

Hi Philip. Yes, I believe it is L56-1that results in the dark coloring. Nothing behind Indian Love Call seems to pull that out of crosses, particularly that close to the original. Yup, I know what you mean about wondering about Actii’s potential. I have one obvious hybrid which is about six months old now. The seed parent is Faith Whittlesey. The foliage is gorgeous! Of course it hasn’t flowered yet.
1 This is an early photo of it. Now, it’s about four times that size, but I haven’t a more recent photo of it. That will have to wait until tomorrow. Thanks! I love the double Hugonis seedlings, too!

Philip, here is the same plant today, at about six and a half months from seed. Faith Whittlesey X R. X Actii.