What's up with Rosa foetida?

What’s up with Rosa foetida?

I have long wondered how a species that is nearly sterile could survive in the wild. I once read that Rosa foetida bicolor has only about 5% viable pollen. Lutea and ‘Persian Yellow’ are apparently about the same. Perhaps the near-sterility is “environmental”, as in the cases cited by Nicholas (1927):

“Have the soil and original method of propagation a direct relation to the fertility or sterility of a plant? We have long noted here that grafted plants of R. Hugonis, for example, will profusely bear seeds, while plants grown from cuttings are very scant seed bearers, almost approaching sterility. Paul’s Scarlet Climber as an own root plant may be considered as sterile, but a grafted plant will bear both self- and hand-pollinated seeds. I have also noted that plants of the same variety in different parts of the nursery have a different seed bearing capacity, although both receive the same amount of sunshine. As an instance, R. bracteata and R. Altaica at one location are practically sterile, while a short distance away, but in a different soil, nearly every bloom, either hand- or self-pollinated, sets fruit.”

Maybe it’s a matter of climate. Floral induction (conversion of vegetative buds to floral buds) may be triggered by different conditions in related species. And floral induction may precede flowering by months. In the strawberry, Fragaria vesca, floral induction occurs during the short days of autumn, but both the floral and vegetative buds remain dormant until the following spring. A long autumn (late first frost) means more flowers will open the following spring. An early frost, on the other hand, means fewer flowers.

When does floral induction occur in Rosa foetida?

Floral induction often occurs while plants are dormant. Not always, of course, as Fragaria vesca shows. But it may. Rosa foetida seems to be adapted to a short growing season in region where summers are fierce. It emerges early from dormancy, flowers, ripens its fruit (presumably) then sheds its leaves before the onset of scorching summer heat.

Nicolas: The Rose Manual p. 265 (1933)

“Summer defoliation is not always due to disease, although diseases will precipitate it. Summer defoliation did not bother our fathers before the introduction of Austrian Briar blood. Austrian Briars will lose their foliage early because it matures early. It is the nature of the beast that nothing can change, and all their hybrids inherit that character in a greater or lesser degree. When the foliage is mature, the ‘cortex’ or film of corky material that heals the pores where the leaf is attached to the branch begins to form, the leaf receives less and less nutrition from the plant and drops at the least provocation, spray or dust notwithstanding.”

Would Rosa foetida be more fertile if the plants were grown own-root and allowed to go dormant in summer rather than kept growing by alien root-stocks? I don’t know. But perhaps someone who grows the species, and who has a magnifying glass and an X-acto knife, would be so kind as to sacrifice some axial buds to determine just when the vegetative buds are transformed into flower buds.

If floral induction in the species does occur in summer, this may help explain why some of its F1 hybrids (e.g. ‘Soleil d’Or’) are able to rebloom, since it would only be necessary to override the summer dormancy.

There have been reports of the single yellow rose bearing viable seeds. Gerarde (1596) disagreed with the notion that the yellow rose was merely a wild rose that had been grafted onto a broom plant. He commented that, “the seeds of yellow Roses have brought forth yellow Roses, such as the flours was from whence they were taken”. D. Don, in The British Flower Garden (1835) wrote of ‘Williams’s Double Yellow’:

“This interesting variety was raised about ten years ago by Mr. John Williams of Pitmaston, near Worcester, from seeds obtained from the single yellow rose, which but very rarely matures its fruit in this country. Among the seedlings raised on that occasion three proved to be double, one of which is the subject before us, which from its flowering freely, and from the size, form, and colour of its blossoms is justly esteemed a most valuable addition to our collection of hardy roses.”

Rivers (1836) reported similarly, that the Single Yellow Austrian Rose, “in a state of nature, seldom if ever bears seed, yet, as I have proved, it will, if its flowers are fertilised.”

The native home of Rosa foetida has been discussed repeatedly since its introduction. Dr. Masters, in the Gardeners’ Chronicle (July 7, 1906), wrote:

“Not long since a correspondent enquired about a yellow-flowered Rose occurring in Syria, where the profusion and beauty of the flowers were very noteworthy, as noted also on the slopes of Lebanon by Sir John Llewelyn. From the description given, we conjectured that the plant was the Rosa lutea of Miller, of the Botanical Magazine (tab. 363), and of Lindley’s Monograph of Roses (1820, p. 84). This conjecture was verified by the inspection of Syrian specimens obtained subsequently by Mr. Arthur Sutton. This plant was called by Linnaeus Rosa Eglanteria, a name adopted in the Index Kewensis, which is unfortunate for many reasons, which we need not discuss here. When the Syrian flowers just mentioned were subsequently submitted to Col. Prain, the Director of the Royal Gardens at Kew, he at once recognised them as those of an Indian Rose—R. Eglanteria of Linnaeus, which is, as we have said, synonymous with R. lutea of Miller. It is described in Sir Joseph Hooker’s Flora of British India (II., 1897, p. 360), and stated to be a native of the drier parts of the Himilayas from Kistwar westward, and in Western Tibet. Afghanistan, Asia Minor, and Siberia are also mentioned as countries wherein this Rose is found native.”

This was also reported in the J. Roy. Hort. Soc. (1907) and a follow-up report came the following year.:

“Yellow Rose from Palestine.—Mr. A. W. Sutton, V.M.H., read a letter from a correspondent concerning a yellow rose which grew near Baalbec, specimens of which he also showed. Dr. Masters recognised the rose as Rosa lutea, and Sir John Llewellyn said he had seen it growing so profusely on the northern slopes of Mount Lebanon as to make a mass of colour visible at the distance of a mile.”

The Gardeners’ Chronicle p. 408 (1908)

Rosa lutea.—In June, 1906, Mr. A. W. SUTTON, F.L.S., showed before the Committee dried specimens of a yellow Rose which had been named at Kew Rosa Eglanteria (= R. lutea) from Baalbec. Mr. SUTTON subsequently obtained through a lady missionary at Baalbec some pods and shoots of this Rose, but they were dead when they arrived. Later, however, he received other seeds, from which three plants had been reared, and which were now flowering in his garden. He exhibited a flower of a beautiful clear yellow colour, measuring 3 inches in diameter. A full account of the history of this plant, which Colonel PRAIN thought when he saw the dried specimens from Baalbec to be identical with the Indian Rose Eglanteria, is given in the Gardeners’ Chronicle, July, 1906.

The fragrance of the leaves of R. foetida is commonly overlooked. The precise fragrance has been disputed.

Herball p. 1086 (1597)

John Gerard

The yellow Rose hathe browne and prickly stalks or shootes, five or six cubites high, garnished with many leaves, like unto the Muske Rose, of an excellent sweet smell, and more pleasant than the leaves of the Eglantine.

Rhodologia: A discourse on roses, and the odour of rose (1844)

John Charles Sawer

The leaves of R. lutea, Dalech (R. Eglanteria, Lin.), (known also as R. Capucine) possess an odour which is even finer, recalling that of jasmin.

Euphytica 27: 205-210 (1978)

On the transmission of the yellow flower colour from Rosa foetida to recurrent flowering Hybrid Tea roses

D. P. De Vries and Lidwien A. M. Dubois

The F1 seedlings were relatively uniform as to vigour, showing a decidedly R. foetida habit. Thus leaves were composed of 7-11 leaflets (3-5 in HT) which had, like R. foetida, the typical smell of sour apples.

E. H. Wilson (1915) included R. foetida among the yellow roses native to “Asia Minor and Persia to central Asia,” then added that it was also to be found in the Crimea.

A species with such a wide range will surely have a variety of geographical “races” or localized populations that differ in various characteristics. Maybe a dwarf form is out there, or some that keep their leaves for a longer season. Are there other variations of the Bicolor type? At the very least, it would seem worth the trouble to import more forms of the species so breeders won’t be forced to continue exploiting the limited “gene pool” of the clone that has come down to us.



Thank you Karl! I knew that would make a great post here!


Are you aware of any studies done to determine the genetic diversity between plants of foetida in natural populations? The reason I ask is this:

Here in Tasmania a plant in the Proteaceae family called Lomatia tasmanica (King’s Lomatia) was discovered that is unusual in a number of ways. The most unusual thing about it is that in the only remaining natural colony every plant in the colony is a clone. It is triploid and, despite flowering prolifically, it does not form any seed. It seems that this remaining colony is also very old and has been preferentially reproducing by vegetative means for over 43,000 years (some put it as high as 135,000 years). It reproduces by layering, forming new plants that form their own roots and then break their ties with the parent plant and so slowly radially increase their range. Plants are long lived (300 years) and they have remained this way in isolation for a very long time. You can read more about it here: Lomatia tasmanica - Wikipedia and here http://www.apstas.com/lomatiatas2.html.

I was wondering, if foetida also has low seed set in natural populations and a resulting low genetic diversity then is it possible that it too is preferentially reproducing by suckers and in its habitat this it is a adaptive advantage over reproducing asexually whilst either selecting against sexual reproduction or maintaining the ability to reproduce sexually when and if the conditions or circumstances suit (like aphids reproducing parthenogentically in preference to sexually throughout the warmer seasons and at the end of the season reproducing sexually to produce eggs that can over winter etc).

Further to this I just found this:


Authors: L. Samiei, R. Naderi, A. Khalighi, A.-A. Bushehri, V. Mozaffarian, D. Esselink, M.J.M. Smulders

Keywords: microsatellite marker, yellow rose, identical genotypes


Rosa foetida is a dense, erect shrub with bright yellow or scarlet flowers with a yellowish reverse petal. It is most abundant in South West Asia. In Iran R. foetida occurs mainly in the mountainous North and West regions. The species is the origin of the strong yellow color in hybrid roses, which was introduced into modern cultivars in 1900 through a single species hybridization event. In this study we have used 10 microsatellite markers to determine diversity in Rosa foetida accessions collected across Iran. To our surprise, nearly all samples collected were of the same genotype, even when collected at different sites. Only four different genotypes have been detected in total. The results are discussed in relation to breeding system, human influence and overall gene pool status.


I can see the similarity of flower structure with that of the Grevillea’s and how varied the foliage structures are , as in the grevillea’s. Interesting plant the Lomatia genus.

Very interesting, thank you! Sounds similar to R. Minutifolia here. There is the population in San Diego County, here in the US which sets no hips, tip rooting its way across the area. Then, there is the Mexican population, which DOES set seed. In MANY attempts to use it both directions, I’ve only raised one seedling from it, with Anytime. It was a terrible plant, addicted to any issue which came its way until it finally died at less than a year old.

There is only one source for the Mexican variation and they are working to produce it. Both populations have the characteristic mauve flower, but the California population also throws white plants.

sorry for the typos.


habitat this it is a adaptive advantage over reproducing asexually

was meant to say

habitat this it is a adaptive advantage over reproducing > sexually >

It is amazing how these things survive. It wouldn’t surprise me if there are many other rose species with a similar survival story to tell.


Thanks for the note on genetic diversity of Rosa foetida in Iran. I’d still like to know about the populations reported in Baakbek (Lebanon), Kistwar (Northern India), Western Tibet, Afghanistan, Asia Minor, the Crimea and Siberia.

Rivers (1836) commented on the species:

"The Austrian Briar, a native of the South of Europe, is found on the hills of the North of Italy, producing copper or red, as well as yellow flowers; but, strange to say, though the flowers are invariably single, yet they never produce seed. In this country also it is with extreme difficulty, and only by fertilising its flowers, that seed can be perfected; if the flowers are examined, they will all be found deficient in pollen, which accounts for this universal barrenness. "

No doubt the yellow and copper Foetida that grew in the hills of northern Italy were introduced, and spread vegetatively. Was it also introduced to Iran?


Maybe they produce pollen during patterns of weather where germination may be had in the near future.

Wow… reading back through my initial post… so many typos… parthenogentically!!! lol parthenogenically maybe lol

Anyway… It would be good to be able to get the full version of the paper above as it suggests the impact of humans on foetida’s distribution is discussed which may shed some light on whether it was introduced to Iran. There are several interesting references on HMF regarding foetida such as:

Mansfeld’s encyclopedia of agricultural and horticultural crops Book (2001) Page(s) 441.

Rosa foetida Herrm., De Rosa (1762) 18.

Rosa eglanteria L., Amoen. Acad. 5 (1760) 220, non L. (1753); R. lutea Mill., Gard. dict. ed. 8 (176^8) no. 4; R. chlorophylla Ehrh., Beitr. Naturk. 2 (1788) 138; R. eglanteria ? lutea Thory ex Seringe in DC., Prodr. 2 (1825) 607.

Persian yellow brier, Austrain brier; German Kapuzinerrose, Gelbe Rose; Russian roza vonju?aja, roza iranskaja želtaja.

Asia Minor, Armenia, Iran, Afghanistan to India and Tibet.

Often cultivated primarily as an ornamental shrub or hedge, so in India, Iran and Iraq. The petals together with the honey are prepared in Iran to the sweet “gulamgabiu”; the dried flowers are used as drug.

Ref.: Hegi IV (2) 1923; Husain & Kasim 1975, 275 pp.; Krüssmann 1986, 484 pp.; Vul’f & Maleeva 1969, 566 pp.; Wealth of India 9, 1972.

Such an entrenched cultural link seems to suggest a very long association with Iran.

Another reference seems to suggest something that I was wondering earlier regarding the chances that foetida is actually a hybrid, given how many other yellow roses were also found in the ancient lands of Islam, which would also explain its low fertility:

Roses (Phillips & Rix) Book (1988) Page(s) 15. Includes photo(s).

Rosa foetida J. Hermann (R. lutea Miller) A shrub up to 3 m, with glabrous young twigs and few straigt, or slightly curved, slender prickles. Leaflets 7-9, aromatic, sparsely glandular beneath and on the margins, dull green on both sides. Flowers around 6 cm across; petals often suffused with red. Sepals becoming leafy at the apex. Hips dark brick red. …This species…may have originated as a hybrid between R. kokanica and R. hemispherica.

See: 'R. kokanica' Rose for R. kokanica information.

Stirling Macoboy said, in Macoboy’s Roses:

The heartlands of Islam are also the home of yellow roses. Introduced to Britain in 1837, ‘Persian Yellow’ is apparently and old garden plant in Iran. From it descended practically all of our yellow Modern Garden Roses.

It seems likely to me, that foetida could be a hybrid because there were a number of other yellow roses also found in the Middle East, such as Rosa ecae, xanthina and even persica and yellow roses feature in the stories of Islam, again as written by Stirling Macoboy in Macoboy’s Roses:

It seems that Mohammed’s wife, Aisha, fell in love with a young Persian while her husband was away waging holy war. The distressed Prophet sought the advice of the Angel Gabriel, who told him to ask Aisha to throw something into the pool in the centre of the Medina marketplace. If it remained unchanged, it would prove her fidelity. The next day, he met her there. At his request, she laughingly tossed in a bunch of red roses, Unhappy miracle! They emerged the color of gold, the first yellow roses ever seen. To this day the pool is the refuge of unhappy husbands’

It also remains true to this day that in the secret meaning of flowers that yellow roses mean infidelity, jealousy and a waning love.

If you go through the first generation descendants of foetida on HMF it shows it has been used as both a seed parent and a pollen parent (e.g. William’s Double Yellow has it as a pollen parent: 'Williams' Double Yellow' Rose ) so there must be at least some fertility in the pollen at least some of the time somewhere.

So it’s all very interesting.

I have read elsewhere that some writers suggest that Rosa foetida is a hybrid of R. kokanica. But is the latter species at all common?

Since Rosa foetida is commonly cultivated in Iran today, it seems reasonable to suppose that it was also cultivated in the past. And if so, then the limited gene pool of the Iranian populations of the species has a ready explanation: they were introduced from elsewhere and have escaped … just as in Italy.

Furthermore, some writers have jumped to the conclusion that low viability of pollen necessarily implies hybridity. Cole (1917) was one who jumped, neglecting entirely the possibility that Himalayan species could lose some pollen fertility when cultivated near sea level.


Darwin, ‘Double flowers-their origin’, Gardeners’ Chronicle, no. 36, 9 September 1843, p. 628.

“It is well known that plants (and indeed animals, as I could show by a series of facts) when placed out of their natural conditions, become, often from apparently slight and unintelligible causes, sterile. How many American plants fail in producing pollen in this country! the anthers of the Persian and Chinese Lilacs, as I observed this summer, are as destitute of good pollen as if they had been hybrids. Other plants produce good pollen, but are defective, as it appears, in their ovules, as their germen never swells. Linnaeus has remarked that most Alpine plants, when cultivated in the lowlands, are rendered quite sterile. In most of these cases, we see that sterility is compatable with long life and health.”

Roses that are propagated from cuttings by people, and by suckers on their own, could spread widely even though they rarely produce seeds. I still hold out hope that some seed-bearing populations might be found in the mountains, somewhere.

Until such hoped-for specimens are found, it might be possible to use an old “trick” that has proven useful in other plants. Girdling a cane - removing a narrow strip of bark - can inhibit the downward flow of carbohydrates. This can encourage fruiting in plants that otherwise seem sterile, or at least self-sterile.




Thankyou for the information, Karl. I am finding it most interesting and informative. I’ve long thought there was more to the blackspot issues in yellow roses, since you published a comment some time ago on RHA concerning the summer dormancy of foetida, than we thought.

Where would foetida have been introduced to Iran from? Peter Harkness wrote in his book ‘Favourite Roses: 150 Garden Classics’:

Rosa foetida (‘Austrian Briar’, ‘Austrian Yellow’, R. lutea) Wild shrub rose… [the name] ‘Austrian Yellow’ recalls a stage on its journey from Turkey across Europe in the sixteenth century, though there is reason to believe the Spaniards had it much earlier than that, via Africa…

I’m guessing though that the records of it in Iran preceed these by quite a long way. Is Iran where the trail goes cold? Might that also make hybridity a real possibility? I guess it also adds weight to the possibility that it was brought to Iran from somewhere else too and that it was either not documented or long since lost.

I’m also thinking that foetida has been taken to so many places around the world and grown in so many different ways on rootstocks or its own roots, that the chances of finding somewhere to its liking is probable and yet there are still very few cases of hips being found. There is the lone hip that Margit Schowalter photographed on a plant growing in Tofield, Alberta Canada 2008 (see: 'Austrian Yellow' Rose Photo) which contained two seeds. I don’t know if she tried to germinate them. Harisonii regularly forms hips here in Tasmania, Australia. I have a pot with Harisonii seeds in it now that I have left for two years hoping something would come up. Granted it’s a hybrid with spinosissima. Maybe it’s also worth obtaining foetida and growing it in a lot of different ways in various areas to see if hips are forth coming.

I’ve also been thinking about something else. Many roses are quite self-sterile. Could the lack of hip-set in foetida be due to selfing barriers too? If four different genotypes have been found is there any change in hip set if plants of all four genotypes are grown together? Maybe this is the key to ‘breaking the bottleneck’???

Are you suggesting that foetida might be an alpine species? It’s interersting to note that the descendants listed on HMF where foetida was used as a pollen parent were done at lower altitudes in England by Lord Penzance and in the U.S. by Geaorge Thomas.

Another thing I would like to know is where Mr. Sutton got his second lot of seeds from from which he raised three plants. Might a search for more seed logically start from there?

It would be great if there was some DNA fingerprinting done to investigate the chance that foetida is a hybrid.


I’m guessing that one reason Rosa foetida usually doesn’t seed unless hand pollinated is that it blooms too early for the available pollinators. The low percentage of viable pollen doesn’t help, either.

‘Harison’s Yellow’ has frustrated some breeders.

American Rose Annual 1: 34 (1916)

Dr. W. Van Fleet

Rosa lutea (Harrison’s Yellow).—Reference has already been made to this charming variety. The pollen has been quite extensively used on R. rugosa and other species, but thus far has given little result except in the production of the dark crimson Rugosa hybrid, Agnes Emily Carman. I have raised some very attractive yellow and coppery flowered crosses of Harrison with rugosa alba, but only disappointment has followed its use with other varieties. Plants of Harrison’s Yellow in dry situations occasionally seed with some freedom; but, although many hundreds of chance or self-fertilized seeds have been sown, I have never known one to germinate, and have never been able to secure seeds by pollinating its blooms from other roses, though as many as 600 trials have been made in a season. All seeds produced by this fine old variety should be planted in the hope that some will grow and in time help to solve the riddle of its origin.

Seeds of other forms of R. lutea, such as Persian Yellow, Austrian Copper, etc., are quite as refractory, none germinating under my observation. Persian Yellow is, however, the pollen parent of Lord Penzance, one of the best of the Sweetbrier hybrids, and also through Soleil d’Or, is the dominant parent of the new Pernetiana race. It may well be used in this country.

Prof. Allard, however, did raise OP seedlings.

Jardins de France 1: 725 (1900)

Having harvested at different times of the fruits of Rosa harrisonii, I planted the seeds and got a variety of roses with single flowers, white, pink, yellow and one semi-double flower, with the same color and tone as that of Rosa lutea Miller. All are dwarf shrubs that run with the Rosa pimpinellifolia, for the main characters: prickles, leaves, purple black fruit, etc.

The Rosa harrisonii has also characters of Rosa pimpinellifolia, but it is closer to Rosa lutea in the color of the flower. However, it is considered by many rose growers as being a variety of this Rose. This would be, we believe, a hybrid of Rosa pimpinellifolia crossed by R. lutea.

I think his semi-double yellow was the variety ‘Allard’ that Doorenbos crossed with Rosa pimpinellifolia to get ‘Ormiston Roy’, a grandparent of ‘Golden Wings’.

Are you the Simon who wrote (on Rose Talk Australia) about fermenting rose seeds with tomato pulp? Some hybrid seeds may need a little help in germinating. Fermentation might do the trick.

And if you have Macoboy’s book handy, I think there is a paragraph in there about a French nurseryman who propagated around 40,000 specimens of a new color variety of Dwarf Polyantha in about 19 months. That’s another topic, but if you can find it, I’d love to know what it said. I don’t have the book any more.


Yes, Karl. I’m one in the same. I don’t run Rose Talk Australia any more, however, and have passed the reigns onto my friend David. The information may still be there but I’m not sure the fermentation process is everything I’d hoped it to be. I had set up a formal trial with open pollinated ‘Maurice Utrillo’ seeds because I had a lot of them and I have always had trouble germinating them. This was with the view of writting an article for the RHA newsletter to share the results and my thinking. The process, however, does not seem as straight forward as I thought. Initially I tested OP Westerland seeds from Paul Barden (50 in the pulp for two weeks and 50 done without) and got a huge difference in germination; from memory it was about 44% : 4%. Then I did it with the ‘Maurice Utrillo’ seeds for three weeks instead of two and got two germinations in the control and 0 in the treated batch. I also tried a batch of ‘Gloire des Rosomanes’ seeds and also got 0 germinations. So… I’ve not been able to duplicate my initial results which suggests to me they were a fluke and it seems there is a fine line between improving germination and over cooking them… I think the next time I try itwill be to determine if the length of tme they are fermented for makes a difference. Maybe in conjunction with Larry’s calcium nitrate protocol it could work even better.

Maybe embryo extractcion would be a more reliable alternative. I’ve only done this successfully twice but I guess, succeed or fail, it would be interesting to see whether there was actually anything structural, like no embryo, that is stopping them from germinating.


I came across your report while I was looking for more instances of fermentation and germination. Van Mons (1835) collected unripe pears and let them ferment before sowing the seeds. He made major improvements in pears, back in the day, and influenced rose breeders among others. When Van Mons died, Vibert named a rose for him.

Cook: Hybridizing (1907)

When perfectly ripe, bruise the heps, or seed balls, and put them in sand. They will soon rot, when you can wash the seed out and sow it at once. It will take from three to ten months for any to come up.

When I read your reports, it occurred to me that perhaps you let them ferment too long. It shouldn’t be necessary to strip them bare. So long as the seed coat is damaged enough to let oxygen get through, that should be enough.

Peter Gideon (1899) made great strides in breeding apples able to withstand the brutal Minnesota winters (-40 F at times).

“I have had very good success with planting the cores, or the pomace fresh from the cider press, covering not more than one inch deep. Seed gathered in the fall at various times may be dried a little in the shade without harm and then planted as soon as possible in the fall, and covered not over one inch deep.”

Again, oxygen is important to germination.

Another bibliography, this one on seed pretreatments, including fermentation.


While collecting the information in the list, it occurred to me that the sugars in fruit could be as important to soil bacteria as to potential seed-distributors. Azobacteria feed on sugar, and fix atmospheric nitrogen. I was then surprised to learn that some acetic acid bacteria also fix nitrogen. So, yeast converts sugar to ethanol, then bacteria convert ethanol to acetic acid, fixing nitrogen as they go.

Anyway, thanks for reporting your results.


I don’t think I can add much to this interesting conversation. But I do know in my climate R. foetida, R. foetida biocolor, and R. foetida ‘Persian Yellow’ all have somewhat fertile pollen and I have seen a few hips on all of them. Never tried growing any of the seeds. Hell I don’t know if they have seeds in the hips. I guess the next time I see any hips I will have to try it out. I do live in the foothills of the rocky mountains so that might have something to do with it. But I am thinking it just because these three varieties are so common around here that you are bound to run into some hips eventually. Personally with hundreds of them planted around I have only ever seen a handful of hips. Now that I say that it would be my luck never to see one again. Another thing that might help is in this climate none of these varieties defoliate much at all; it only happens ounce every four years or so. All three of these are commonly the lone survivors in many mountain ghost towns, so I could easily see their origins being high up somewhere. In many of these towns they are rampant growers out competing everything around them. As for what crossed with these varieties to produce hips I would say it would have to be one of the other foetidas, itself or maybe R. woodsii in this climate because nothing else is usually in bloom. R. woodsii is a stretch because it is only just beginning when these are finishing.

As a side note I planted a bush of R. foetida biocolor last year because my wife absolutley adores the rose. Personally I am indifferent but I do want to explore the link between R. foetida and the mauve colored roses. I do like the idea of crossing it with rugosas however to bring yellow there, and have made a few crosses towards that end. We will see if any of these seedlings from these crosses; are true crosses or just selfs with rugosa. These should bloom next year. Perhaps this year I should freeze some pollen to use on R. foetida biocolor in the spring.

I hope this is helpful. I have really enjoyed finding this post today.


I once found hips on Rosa foetida bicolor at the Heritage Rose Garden (San Jose, CA). They were empty. Still, it’s worth checking. There have been cases of plants that were nearly sterile when first introduced to a new region, but which managed a few seeds. Second and later generations became more fertile. That would be a good thing for breeders, but maybe a fertile R. foetida would then become another exotic weed species.

Another possibility that I’ve considered (but never tried) would be to pollinate ‘Lady Penzance’ by R. foetida. There is a good chance that some of the offspring would be fertile tetraploids and express a deeper yellow color.


Hi Karl,

Yes, I have the book here… it’s a pretty big book though… can you remember what it was in reference to so I can narrow downt he search?

Sorry I didn’t have time to post earlier on this thread. At some time years ago on another thread here, I mentioned I had gotten a hip on Austrian Copper with Carefree Beauty pollen. Got one seedling that bloomed a pink double then before end of season, died. I’m traveling now and don’t have my notes, such as they are, with me. But I do know that I got a number of seedlings from Carefree Beauty with A.C. pollen. So it’s not all that sterile as a pollen parent.

The one seedling still actively kept is Carefree Copper. It is totally self-sterile in this KS climate. But it has produced seed and seedlings with Carefree Sunshine and Rainbow KnockOut in reasonable numbers. And its pollen has worked on quite a range of others. So I think that the self-infertility is largely self- incompatibility, in A.C. as in C.C.

Sterility is hit or miss, or I don’t understand it. This year I pollinated quite a few offspring of CC using RKO pollen. ON CC itself my success rate was quite low, below 10 % but with some offspring it was relatively high, maybe 1/3 to 1/2 while on other plants not a single cross took. All were done over the same time range of a couple weeks, doing many flowers per day. Some days pollen was freshly gathered, some it was frozen from last year. I didn’t record which was which as I had too many pollinations to do, it was hard enough to even tag them. Maybe by fall I can gather some results together in a more quantitative way. Very likely a different pollen source from a highly fertile tetrapolid would work better, but I don’t need seedlings of those.

That says nothing about hybridity of origin of A.C. The strong trait dominance of the foetida parent in a large fraction of seedlings, even Soliel d’Or, shows that we can’t really judge hybridity reliably by simple phenotypes. If we get a clear intermediate it says yes, but if we don’t, who knows. Only molecular methods will give the answer. I haven’t looked carefully at how the Iranian genotypes study was done, but I suspect that the authors could easily try to match patterns with some known species to reasonably rule in or rule out parentage of A.C. or whatever they study.