Unusually pretty chance hybrid

Found this gal growing by a barn two years ago. Best guess is she’s a hybrid of a damask rose and a very old China rose bush growing here. Little white tips on the petals and a warm yellow on the inside, which the photo doesn’t quite capture. Also the foliage is deep red early in the season, eventually becoming a glossy dark green. The smell is sweet and apple-y and fairly strong. It’s grown quite large with minimal help and I’m thinking of potting a few around the property.


That seems very modern for a chance China/Damask hybrid-seedling. Does it repeat-flower, or is it a glorious “one and done” performer?


I’m a complete neophyte, but that’s my best guess. The only roses I had when it sprouted were a La Ville de Bruxelles damask rose and an old China rose that I’m told was here in the 70s, possibly earlier. The latter, like this one, his white dots at the fringes and deep red foliage early in the season. However, it has fewer petals, which is why I suspected the damask had a hand in it.

The only local wild roses I’m aware of are multiflora, Carolina, and Virginiana. Of course, it’s possible some bird deposited it here from far away!

I believe it was a repeat bloomer, but last year was a blur of work I’m afraid, so I don’t remember!

UPDATE: Ha, you know what, I never took a good hard look at those supposedly old roses, and well, they sure look a lot like knock-outs! I’m guessing the older guy who remembered them was thinking of something else?


There is no evidence of Damask traits in that rose, and very little chance that it’s got China genes in its recent past either. The glossy foliage screams modern Hybrid Tea/Floribunda and little else. Same goes for the bloom style - nothing China or Damask about it.

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That’s fascinating. I wonder if it just got dropped in that spot by some bird from far away? We’re in a pretty rural area, so it would’ve have to have come from over a mile away!

I’m pretty skeptical that a rose like this could have arisen by chance as a spontaneous seedling under those conditions. Is there no chance that it was actually planted by that barn? It isn’t completely impossible, just extremely improbable. Do you know anything about the history of that barn, especially its recent history?


Sure: the barn has been here about 20 years. We’ve lived here 5. I first saw a small plant growing 2 years ago, and when I realized it was a rose and not multiflora my hope was it was one of our local native varieties (Virginia). But, it pretty clearly wasn’t, and then I was surprised when it opened up with these blooms.

It’s possible the previous owner had planted them and they just kept getting chopped down for some reason, without the plant ever growing much. Seems unlikely, since it was very small when I first noticed it - nothing woody, as I recall. Also, it’s not planted in a desirable spot – it’s in the corner of a little area by the barn that has access to the drainage system (where you wouldn’t want thorny plants). Plus, the system is in a little marked off square, and the rose is in a corner of it instead of a more aesthetic position.

You’re right though, super weird - now I wish I’d taken photos 2 years ago…

EDIT: I spent way too long looking through old photos, and I found a Loch Ness Monster quality one taken in April 2022, but which at least shows there’s no big plants in that spot that are roses. There’s a little blurry green thing that might be what’s pictured above, but it’s 3 or 4 inches tall at most.

EDIT 2: Is there anyway I could check it to see if it’s an older plant? Like, can you identify signs of it having been pruned? With floribunda’s generally have a different rootstock?

Yes, you can sometimes tell if a plant is older than it superficially appears if remnants of old canes are still present. It could be difficult to identify a different rootstock unless it happens to have been grafted (it wouldn’t necessarily have been) and it was either planted with the graft union above grade or the rootstock suckered independently. It’s also possible that the rose just remained quite small for a time.