ROSA (MULTIFLORA?) CARNEA OF REDOUTÉ
Investigation into a hairy rose bush
published in Roses Anciennes en France)
Between literature and nature, ...
... there are herbariums !
Journey to the islands and colonies...
... return to China ...
... detour by Indochina !
Stop press !!!
literature and nature, ...
beginning of the 19th century, in "Les Roses", Redouté
and Thory described two cultivated rose bushes, one from
multiflora var. carnea ,
and the other perhaps from Japan Rosa
multiflora var. platyphylla . They
treated them as varieties of R.
But the latter, described by Thunberg in his Flora Japonica
of 1784 from plants gathered in the Nagasaki region, was
not officially introduced into Europe until around 1860.
of this study was at the outset to try and define the
identity and geographical origin of the var. carnea,
introduced hastily and thus one feels that it has played
important role in the genesis of our cultivated roses. This
was to lead us to discover a very diversified group, which
"Les Roses" of Redouté and Thory, leading work of
its time, does not really take into account the scope and
of the introduction, at least in the colonies!
As Redouté and Thory have not left herbariums which
could serve as reference, this is therefore the first obstacle
to overcome. In actual fact, what is there to prove that the
varieties sold in nurseries under the names of var. carnea
and var. platyphylla are really those described and
illustrated in "Les Roses"? I myself took a number of years
before finding one (or several) variety which appeared to
be like the var. carnea (one is often given 'Paul's
Himalayan Musk' in its place), and I am still looking for
something which satisfies me regarding the var. platyphylla
('de la Grifferaie' is the only thing I have received under
this name up till now).
is what Thory says about the geographical origin of the var.
carnea : "Our rose grows spontaneously in China, this
delectable region, where Flora reigns unrivalled; it
back by the honourable squire T. Evans, around 1804, and
flowered for the first time in England in the nursery
of Mr Colville.
M. Boursault then had it brought from London to Paris in
1808 and it was not until four years later, in the month
1812 that it flowered in the garden of Doctor Cartier."
there are herbariums !
is large, almost a continent with its contrasting climatic
areas which correspond to very diversified flora. The "packets"
of the Crépin herbarium at the National
Botanic Garden of Belgium (BR) contain considerable quantities
of specimens under the appellation Rosa multiflora Thunb.
Just for China alone, there is very varied material from shapes
practically identical to the Japanese (mainly from the north-east
to central China) to such different things (from the south
and south-west) that it is difficult to understand why Crépin
classified them with this species.
A more general examination however makes it simpler to characterize
a fairly homogeneous regional group of flowers with very
buds with stipules and bracts
deeply cut in strips in the heart of the Synstylae section.
This group comprises R. multiflora, R. luciae,
R. wichuraiana, etc. and the roses from the south
and south-west of China classified by Crépin as R.
to the islands and colonies...
discussing the multiflora, I had found in another
herbarium at BR, the herbarium of Africa, strange roses which
made me think of "Hybrid Musk", created by the English clergyman,
Reverend Pemberton (1)
in the first half of the 20th century. These roses from the
gardens of colonists, or naturalized in this corner of Africa
(Tanzania) also had round buds, but they were very hairy (tomentum)
on all parts of the inflorescence. In my mind, a similar hairiness,
although much less dense, on the Hybrid Musk was one of the
traces left by Rosa moschata in their morphology. Or else,
these hairs came from elsewhere. On the roses from Tanzania
the thickness of the hair was such that I could not help thinking
of R. bracteata or R. clinophylla from the Bracteatae
During a first perusal in the herbariums of the Natural History
Museum in Paris, I found here "hairy" roses very close to
the Tanzanian roses, gathered in the colonies and French
- Madagascar, the Île Bourbon and practically identical,
the type of Rosa
Cardot noted "Countryside in the
neighbourhood of Longtchéou, hedges and bushes, grows
abundantly, April 1893". The flowers of these samples are
semi-double to double and described as pink or "red". However,
careful and scrupulous collectors are content to note "Rosa"
on the herbarium without giving the name of the species.
I therefore come back to Thory's description for additional
information on the morphology of the var. carnea, and
I note that he describes a hairiness similar to what I had
noticed in these roses from Tanzania and the French colonies.
"The leaves [...] green and glabrous
above, paler and pubescent underneath. [...] They are supported
by a hairy petiole. [The] pedicels,
as well as the common stem are covered with down similar to
that on the petioles. The tubes of the calyx [...] are pubescent.
The divisions of the leaf blade
[...] are also pubescent ..."
At the same time (1820), Lindley in his "Rosarum Monographia"
describes the same phenomenon for his Rosa multiflora : "Stipulae
linear [...] downy beneath; petioles very villous; leaflets
[...] hairy on both sides."
On returning to the multiflora of the Crépin herbarium,
I discovered very similar specimens there which lead one to
imagine the route followed to introduce this type of cultivars
in Europe, but also perhaps independently in America - a specimen
from San José de Costa Rica (3),
in Central America (a twin which is also to be found in the
general herbarium of Meise (Brabant)); - two specimens from
Madeira under the local appellation of "roses of the Portuguese"
(this name could lead one to think of a very much earlier
introduction by Portuguese navigators, and the flora of the
Madeira roses includes other things such as a white rose "with
the fragrance of rice", closer to the "Noisette").
An interesting additional feature - the specimens from Madeira
belong to two like shapes but different from one another:
one possessing little leaflets (pointed like those of Rosa
luciae) and very small flowers appears to be a vigorous
climbing plant (4);
the second plate of the same specimen shows strong sterile
stems in full growth. This plant is similar to the one from
San José de Costa Rica. This is the closest through
all the above-mentioned characteristics of the var. carnea
of Redouté. The colour of its flowers is not given.
other possessing large, widely oval leaflets, is apparently
identical to the roses of Tanzania, to certain from Madagascar
and to the R. beauvaisii from Longtchéou. Here the
flowers definitely have a pink or reddish, or even darker
Is it not purely and simply from the var. platyphylla
described and illustrated in "Les Roses"?
An important point. Thory only mentions the differences
in proportion, colour of the flowers and roughness of the
foliage between the var. carnea and platyphylla,
but he does not indicate that the latter would be less hairy.
return to China ...
us come back to the var. carnea. A number of authors
attach it to a rose first of all considered as a botanical
variety of Rosa multiflora, although it is probably
genetically far removed: Rosa cathayensis (Rehder & E.H.
Wilson) L.H. Bailey (synonym of R. multiflora var. cathayensis
Rehder & E. H. Wilson), native of the Chinese provinces
of Yunnan and Setchouan (7).
These opinions are based on the work "Plantae Wilsonianae",
which lists and describes the numerous plant species gathered
by missionaries or during expeditions in China at the beginning
of the 20th century. One has attributed to this
rose the shape described by Plukenet as early as 1704 (1696
according to G. S. Thomas) as "Rosa sylvestris cheusanica,
foliis subtus incanis, floribus purpureis parvis" (wild
rose from China, underneath leaves covered with a whitish
down, and small purplish flowers), but this short description
could also very well fit the var. carnea, the var.
platyphylla or others which are going to follow.
For the moment, herbariums of George Forrest and E. E. Maire
borrowed from the Edinburgh Royal Botanical Gardens are being
examined at Meise. At the time when these lines were written, the
type specimen of the var.cathayensis of Rehder & Wilson and of other Chinese collections are the subject
of a loan request from the Arnold Arboretum, in Boston.
If in the Edinburgh herbarium there are indeed specimens (uniquely
from Yunnan) labelled var. carnea and var. platyphylla,
practically all the specimens (23 in all) have hairy undersides
to the leaflets, but only a few have sparse hairs in the inflorescence.
On the other hand, the presence of glands
inflorescent or not, is frequent. Great differences from one
specimen to another in the distribution of these, the size
of the leaves and flowers as well as their colours and the
duplicature of the corolla, give
the impression that one is dealing with 23 different shapes.
Considerable consistency does however exist in the pale and
dull colour of the two sides of the leaflets and the paleness
of the thorns; the pedicels or stalks are thin and not very
stiff, rather long in proportion to the size of the buds,
2 to 3 times longer than the R. multiflora of Japan,
and forming a tighter angle with the main stems; articulation
is little marked, unlike the R. multiflora, which
often shows a notable thickening at this place; the inflorescence
form corymbes or clusters which are not always very thick.
This leaves the impression of a "semi-cultivated" population
of regional origin (George Forrest often uses the expression
"semi-cultivated" for his specimens of Rosa chinensis
gathered in the same region), but very varied and where hybridization
with other species is not to be excluded (8).
Cultivating for a good number of years botanical or horticultural
roses from the Synstylae section, I have been able to observe
(for my greatest pleasure) their spontaneity to re-sow themselves
and to hybridize amongst themselves.
Rosa cathayensis in any case does not appear to
have been described from statistical studies of a wild population
on a large scale.
detour by Indochina !
must be a botanical origin to the abundant hair on the
bushes from the colonies and the var. carnea (I always
look for an origin in nature before thinking about a mutation).
One can of course hit a snag that the same plant is either
more or less hairy depending on the climatic conditions
which it is grown. But if only the heat encourages the hairiness
in the case we are studying, then why should the var.
of Redouté, grown in the temperate climate of the
Paris region, have been so hairy if it comes from a species
cathayensis) that remains smooth and glabrous
in the far warmer regions of the Yunnan or Setchouan? After
some short detours through the Bracteatae section, with
similar hairs, I became immersed again in the group of the
Musks, which comprise very ill-assorted things in the Crépin
herbarium, often pubescent but less dense and with shorter
hairs. Without success. Without thinking about it, I then
started on a packet containing among others R. soulieana
and R. wichuraiana, ... and there discovered Rosa
tunquinensis Crépin !
Boulenger, in his "Révision des roses d'Asie de l'herbier
Crépin" (Review of the roses of Asia in the Crépin
herbarium) places on the borderline between musked
and multiflora this species described by Crépin
on the basis of material from the extreme south of China and
from the north of the Indochinese penisula. Here the shapes
are varied but particularly hairy (9);
there are pink or red semi-double flowers. The likeness with
the roses from the Colonies as well as R. beauvaisii
is glaringly obvious, even though here the buds are more elongated
and in fact make one think of the R. moschata group. The lateral
appendages noticeably present and elliptical - whilst they
are closely elliptical to linear in R. cathayensis-
strengthens even more the impression of resemblance with R.
moschata, but a little wider crown is added in this case,
nearly of the same shape (10).
Boulenger also describes their R. cardoti and R.
lecomtei from these regions, also hairy and which differ by
of certain parts of the inflorescence, a detail which can
vary within the same population. But in this material one
also finds shapes with small single white flowers, from hedges
near Hanoï and the Lan Mat mountain, and in western Tonkin,
which give the impression of being more primitive, and perhaps
closer to local wild populations. Does this mean that
one is now getting closer to the geographical and botanical
origin of the roses which have contributed this hairiness?
not forget that on the biodiversity maps on a worldwide scale,
these regions and even more so the mountain ranges which mark
the frontier between Laos today and Thailand are shown in
dark red!!! This means that diversity here is at a maximum
and that at the present time one can still expect to discover
unknown vegetal and animal species. Therefore why not new
roses and even key species for the understanding of the genus
and its earlier cultivars!
Herbariums collected more recently in the Seventies in Java
during a Japanese expedition show a
hairy form with
single pink flowers morphologically intermediate between R.
tunquinensis and R.
Perhaps it concerns naturalized plants in a region of plains
at around 2,000m, but if this is not the case, the Rosa
would therefore considerably overshoot the equator. Seeing
the method of dispersion of its grains at long distance,
the distribution of various other genus of temperate origin
in these regions (Rhododendron, Hydrangea,
etc.), that would not be at all surprising.
on perusing the multiflora of the Crépin herbarium
to make an inventory of something completely different, by
chance I came across the folders given over to the cultivated
multiflora and here discovered specimens sent to
Crépin from the Villa Thuret, at Antibes by Maurice
de Vilmorin. They had been sent to him from China by missionaries,
are hairy and .....very remontant (11)
!!! Their growth is not described, but they look very like
the rose with little leaflets from Costa Rica and Madeira,
with just the buds a little more pointed and more pronounced
appendages (influence of R. tunquinensis?). However
Thory wrote this about the var. carnea : "... it is
only four years afterwards in the month of August 1812, that
it gave its flowers in the garden of Doctor Cartier ..." Further
on, he also mentions: "... One must guarantee that they are
protected from the cold using good cover; for M. Delaunay
remarked, as a good gardener that the frosts of November and
December 1812 destroyed the grafts and ungrafted seedlings
which had been left in open ground... everywhere, in Paris
and in the neighbourhood." Would not this modest hardiness
be precisely the reason of the very southern geographical
provenance of the var. carnea ?
It would appear that here and there in south Africa
and elsewhere nowadays one still comes across very old hairy,
perpetual flowering multiflora rose bushes. I am hoping to
be able to talk about them in the next newsletter, for I
know that there will be additional information on R. cathayensis;
the type and other herbarium from the Arnold Arboretum are
actually on the way to Meise - I have just received confirmation.
Roses such as 'Buff Beauty' look very much like R.
beauvaisii. In fact, morphologically, among the "Pemberton"
one above all detects the influence of R. gigantea
and these bushes of the cathayensis / tunquinensis
which must have been involved several times in their genesis
at the same time as other things, including Rosa moschata
and perhaps genuine multiflora of Japanese origin. This complex
question is far from new and it was not initiated in the West;
see also note 8 on this subject.
For the Rosa, dense villous or woolly hairiness, spread to
the inflorescence, at the hypanthium,
even to the sepals seem to be characteristic of south
One finds it again in the Synstylae for R.
others (although this makes one think of an introgression
of Chinenses in the Synstylae),
but also with certain shapes of R. cymosa from the
Banksianae section, with R. bracteata and clinophylla
of the Bracteatae section, with R. sericea (individual
variation within the populations). Rosa rugosa also
has this feature on its stems, between the thorns ( phylogenetic
link with the Bracteatae?)
Regarding these roses from the colonies and sea routes, central
America and the West Indies were current stopovers when returning
from the Indies so as to avoid the doldrums of the Gulf of
Guinea; on the other hand, Father Labat mentions in his "Another
journey to the islands of America"( "Nouveau voyage aux isles
de l'Amérique"), already frequent exchanges of cultivated
plants at the beginning of the 18th century between
colonies on the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean.
A living bush of bygone origin found climbing up very high
in a walnut tree in Belgium chez Jelena de Belder would seem
to correspond to this variety, but its flowers are white...
Jelena de Belder, at present vice-chairwoman of the R. H.
S., a horticulturalist specialising in ligneous plants (world
specialist on Hamamelis) has travelled widely and
made many exchanges with Asia since the Sixties.
Living bushes morphologically close to Rosa beauvaisii,
one found in Corsica recently by my friend Jan Balis, organiser
in the Sixties of various exhibitions at the Royal Library
Albert 1st in Brussels on the history of roses
and cultivated plants; another received by Odile Masquelier
from India under the name of R. multiflora var. carnea
are at the moment undergoing genetic analyses in Lyon and
seem identical. These shapes have fairly large leaflets and
consequently do not correspond to the var. carnea
such as is described in "Les Roses".
The Japanese origin described by Thory for the var. platyphylla
is only based on this ill-defined evidence: "This magnificent
variety, remarkable for its foliage and the colours of its
petals, was introduced in France by M. Noisette, where it
flowered in September of last year (1819). He himself discovered
it in 1817, in the garden of a market gardener outside London
who had obtained it from seeds received from Japan, and who
gave him the whole plant." In Bean (1980), Desmond Clarke
who compares it to var. 'Grevillei' (described in
the Gardener's Magazine by Loudon in 1828 and perhaps introduced
from Japan before 1809 by Charles Greville, one of the founders
of the Horticultural Society) says of the latter, which could
still probably be grown, that it has smaller and more numerous
flowers, but nevertheless he suggests the collective appellation
Rosa multiflora var. platyphylla for both, ... which
is perhaps tenuous. Thomas mentions the appellation 'Scarlet
Grevillea', which would be synonymous of 'Russelliana', for
a bush which he says could be of the same origin as 'Grevillei'.
Descriptions of morphology and colour of flowers does not
allow one to differentiate 'Grevillei' from 'Russelliana';
however the former produces vigorous, not very frost resistant
young shoots, which is not the case for the latter. The illustration
of the inflorescence of 'Grevillei' in the same work
undeniably reminds one of 'Russelliana', and this is not a
copy of the illustration of the var. platyphylla by Redouté,
contrary to the illustration further up on the same page,
which is a copy of his var. carnea. 'Russelliana' has not
the hairy inflorescence, and its stems do correspond to the
saying "bramble-like texture", described by Loudon in Arboretum
& Fruticetum Brittanicum for 'Grevillei'. They are covered
with a mixture of thorns and needles of various sizes; should
one perhaps see traces of a previous old hybridization with
a species from another section (the Cinnamomeae, for example),
like one feels that this is the case for the populations of
Rosa maximowicziana, found in the wilds in Korea
'Crimson Rambler', an old Japanese cultivar, probable hybrid
between R. multiflora and R. wichuraiana
has also been mistaken for var. platyphylla.
It is perhaps from this region that a non-hairy plant described
by Lindley as producing fruit more easily than the var.
carnea originated: "Its fruit has never before been described.
For an opportunity of examining it I am obliged to Mr. Lambert,
in whose possession is a specimen brought from China by Sir
George Staunton, of what is certainly this plant, without
the pubescence of peduncles and calyx; which is therefore
deciduous." One must also mention the shape with single flowers
indicated under cultivation by
Thory, although he does not mention the question of hairiness
: "This bush which we have not seen in flower, is noted here
following the evidence of M. Noisette, who assures us that
he has observed it in the Apothecaries Garden in London. Mr
Anderson gave him a plant which he multiplied and which one
can obtain from his nursery garden. [...] Vulg. Multiflore
à fleurs simples."
Yunnan and Setchouan are considered as the cradle of rose
growing in China. Only examining one species at a time gives
a short-sighted view of reality; often I refer to the musk
group or to the Chinenses section and between others to slides
of the R. chinensis herbarium collected by Forrest
in the region. The untypical stripped stipules of the Chinenses
shown in 'Old Blush', as well as its slender and elongated
pedicels could come from R. cathayensis. In other
respects, R. godefroyae Carrière described
and illustrated under the mistaken appellation of R. pissartii
or R. nasturana in the The Genus Rosa of Willmott
must be a hybrid of R. cathayensis.
Remontant and dwarfing mutations have been observed on the
botanical Synstylae; it is not impossible that it is these
that have brought this feature to Rosa chinensis Jacq.
But if the latter is a hybrid, which genetics seems to confirm,
one must expect not to find in its descendants a like image
of itself, but more likely various rearrangements of features
originating from its parents.
Boulenger says of hairiness: "...branches covered with very
abundant pubescence, even spreading itself onto the thorns."
He likens it to the R.moschata var. dasyacantha Cardot,
Thorough examination shows appendages and crowns intermediate
in shape between R. cathayensis and R.
tunquinensis among R.
beauvaisii , roses from the colonies and
Java mentioned at the end of the article.
Here is a translation of the letter in full attached to the
Paris, 28th January 1898
Sir, I am afraid I lack the time and talent to decide, from
the two small samples of Rosa microcarpa Lindl. which
by the way you will receive by registered post, whether
the plant that has produced them has the legitimate
titles to be named as such or whether it usurps its
The aristate appearance, with
pectinate stipules makes me fear
that the good missionaries of Zi-ka-way have sent me
a variety of multiflora
Th. I hope I am wrong! I only have today these two small
collected a month ago (out of season) but in May and during
the two stock planted at Antibes should be able to supply
de Vilmorin ..."
ivan louette 2002