A rose is a woody perennial flowering plant of the genus Rosa, in the family Rosaceae, or the flower it bears. There are over a hundred species and thousands of cultivars. They form a group of plants that can be erect shrubs, climbing or trailing with stems that are often armed with sharp prickles.
Flowers vary in size and shape and are usually large and showy, in colours ranging from white through yellows and reds. Most species are native to Asia, with smaller numbers native to Europe, North America, and north-western Africa. Species, cultivars and hybrids are all widely grown for their beauty and often are fragrant. Roses have acquired cultural significance in many societies. Rose plants range in size from compact, miniature roses, to climbers that can reach seven meters in height. Different species hybridize easily, and this has been used in the development of the wide range of garden roses.
Listed by RHS as native species
Rosa caesia (hairy dog rose): 3m, single pink/white flowers, hips, not readily available
Rosa caesia subsp. glauca: 3m, red, glaucous stems
Rosa canina (dog rose): 4m, fragrant flowers and red hips
Rosa micrantha (small-flowered sweet briar): 3.5m, single flowers and red hips, not readily available
Rosa obtusifolia (round-leaved dog rose): 3m, strong thorns, white/pink flowers, not readily available
Rosa stylosa (short-styled field rose): 3m, single flowers and red hips, not readily available
Rosa tomentosa (harsh downy rose): 3m, fragrant flowers and foliage, not readily available
Rosa agrestis (small-leaved sweet briar): 2m, good on chalk, erect stems, not readily available
Rosa arvensis (field rose): 2m, fragrant flowers and red hips
Rosa mollis (soft downy rose): 2.5m, pink flowers, small hips, not readily available
Rosa rubiginosa AGM (sweet briar): 2.5m, apple-scented foliage, red hips
Rosa sherardii (Sherard’s downy rose): 2m, clusters of flowers and red hips, not readily available
Listed by A D Webster in flowering trees & shrubs, dates indicate the year of the species introduction to Britain.
ROSA ALBA.—This is a supposed garden hybrid between R. canina and R. gallica (1597). It has very glaucous foliage, and large flowers, which vary according to the variety from pure white to rose.
R. REPENS (syn R. arvensis).—Field Rose. Europe (Britain). This species bears white flowers that are produced in threes or fours, rarely solitary. The whole plant is usually of weak and straggling growth, with shining leaves.
R. BRACTEATA (Macartney Rose), R. PALUSTRIS (Marsh Rose), and R. MICROPHYLLA (small-leaved Rose), belong to that section supplied with floral leaves or bracts, and shaggy fruit. They are of compact growth, with neat, shining leaves, the flowers of the first-mentioned being rose or carmine, and those of the other two pure white.
R. CANINA.—Dog Rose. Our native Roses have now been reduced to five species, of which the present is one of the number. It is a straggling shrub, 6 feet or 8 feet high, and armed with curved spines. Flowers sweet-scented, pink or white, and solitary, or in twos or threes at the branch tips.
R. CENTIFOLIA.—Hundred-leaved, or Cabbage Rose. Orient, 1596. A beautiful, sweetly-scented species, growing to 6 feet in height, and having leaves that are composed of from three to five broadly ovate, toothed leaflets. The flowers are solitary, or two or three together, drooping, and of a rosy hue, but differing in tint to a considerable extent. This species has varied very much, principally through the influences of culture and crossing, the three principal and marked variations being size, colour, and clothing of the calyx tube. There are the common Provence Roses, the miniature Provence or Pompon Roses, and the Moss Rose—all of which are merely races of R. centifolia.
R. DAMASCENA.—Damask Rose. Orient, 1573. A bushy shrub varying from 2 feet to 8 feet in height according to cultural treatment and age. The flowers are white or red, large, borne in corymbose clusters, and produced in great profusion during June and July. The varieties that have arisen under cultivation by seminal variation, hybridisation, or otherwise are exceedingly numerous. Those now grown are mostly double, and a large proportion of them are light in colour. They include the quatre saisons and the true York and Lancaster. The flowers are highly fragrant, and, like those of R. centifolia and other species, are used indiscriminately for the purpose of making rose water. The species is distinguished from R. centifolia by its larger prickles, elongated fruit, and long, reflexed sepals.
R. FEROX.—North Asia. This species bears flowers in clusters of two and three together, terminating the branches. The petals are white with a yellow base. The branches are erect, and thickly crowded with prickles of unequal size.
R. GALLICA.—The French, or Gallic Rose. Europe and Western Asia. This Rose forms a bushy shrub 2 feet to 3 feet high, and has been so long grown in British gardens that the date of its introduction has been lost in obscurity. It is doubtless the red Rose of ancient writers, but at present the flowers may be red, crimson, or white, and there are varieties of all intermediate shades. Several variegated or striped Roses belong here, including Gloria Mundi, a popular favourite often but erroneously grown under the name of York and Lancaster. They all flower in June and July, and, together with other kinds that flower about the same time, are generally known as summer or old-fashioned garden Roses.
R. HEMISPHAERICA (syn R. sulphurea).—Orient, 1629. A bushy plant growing from 4 feet to 6 feet high, and bearing large double yellow flowers.
R. INDICA.—Common China, or Monthly Rose. Introduced from China, near Canton, in 1789, but the native country is not known with certainty. The flowers of the plant when first introduced were red and generally semi-double, but the varieties now vary through all shades of blush, rose, and crimson, and the plant varies exceedingly in height, in its different forms 1 foot to 20 feet in height. The Monthly Roses form bushes generally about 2 feet high or a little over. The Noisette and Tea Roses, with several other more or less distinct types, belong here, but as most of them are well known and otherwise well cared for, it is unnecessary to dwell upon them in detail beyond the two varieties here given, and which should not be overlooked.
R. INDICA MINIMA (syn R. semperflorens minima, R. Lawrenceana, and R. minima).—Fairy, or Miniature Rose. China, 1810. A beautiful little Rose that rarely exceeds a height of 4 inches or 5 inches. The flowers are about the size of a half-crown, and somewhat after the York and Lancaster as regards colouring, though not, perhaps, so distinctly marked, and are produced in abundance. For the rock garden it is one of the most desirable, and being perfectly hardy still further adds to its value.
R. INDICA SEMPERFLORENS (syns R. bengalensis and R. diversifolia).—The Ever-flowering China Rose. China, 1789. A somewhat spreading bush, with slender branches, armed with curved prickles. Leaves composed of three or five leaflets, and tinted with purple. Flowers almost scentless, solitary, semi-double, and of a bright and showy crimson.
R. LUTEA (syn R. Eglanteria).—The Austrian Brier, or Yellow Eglantine. South Europe, 1596. This belongs to the Sweet Brier section, and is a bush of from 3 feet to 6 feet high, with shining dark-green leaves, and large, cup-shaped flowers that are yellow or sometimes tinged with reddish-brown within. The Scarlet Austrian Brier (R. lutea punicea) is a handsome variety, with the upper surface of the petals scarlet and the under surface yellow.
R. RUBIGINOSA (syn R. Eglanteria).—Eglantine, or Sweet Brier. This species has pink flowers and clammy leaves, which are glandular on the under surface, and give out a fragrant smell by which it may be recognised.
R. RUGOSA (syn R. ferox of Bot. Reg.), a Japanese species, and its variety R. rugosa alba, are beautiful shrubs that have proved themselves perfectly hardy and well suited for extensive culture in this country. They are of stiff, shrubby habit, about 4 feet high, and with branches thickly clothed with spines becoming brown with age. Leaflets oval in shape, deep green, with the upper surface rough to the touch, the under sides densely tomentose. Flowers single, fully 3 inches in diameter, the petals of good substance, and white or rose-coloured. The fruit is large, larger than that of perhaps any other rose, and of a bright red when fully ripe. In so far as beauty of fruit is concerned, this Rose has certainly no rival, and whether for the rockwork or open border it must be classed amongst the most useful and beautiful of hardy shrubs. R. rugosa is a capital hedge plant, and being a true species it is readily propagated from seed. R. rugosa Kamtschatika is a deep-red flowered form with deciduous spines.
R. SEMPERVIRENS.—Evergreen Rose. South Europe and India, 1529. A climbing species, with long, slender branches, armed with hooked prickles. Leaves evergreen, shining, and composed of from five to seven leaflets. The clustered flowers are white and sweet-scented.
R. SPINOSISSIMA (syn R. pimpinellifolia).—Burnet, or Scotch Rose. A small bush about 2 feet high, of neat growth, with small leaves, and pink or white flowers that are solitary at the branch ends.
R. VILLOSA.—Downy Rose. Europe (Britain). This species is of erect bushy growth, with the leaflets softly downy on both sides. Flowers white or pale pink, succeeded by globular fruits, that are more or less covered with fine hair or prickles.
20% off selected roses at UK’s largest garden website Voted the nation’s favourite flower, most roses are excellent for cutting and many have a delicious perfume. If floor-space is limited, cover the walls with a climbing or rambling rose – the thorny stems of which will help deter unwanted visitors. Otherwise, choose a rose bush with a long flowering period, or one that has a good resistance to disease – like the classic English (David Austin) roses.