Monday, October 10, 2011

Rosa brunonii and Hybrids

Rosa brunonii displays so much natural variability that it is best regarded as a group of species or as a single in a state of rapid evolution.

It grows naturally throughout the Himalayas, from Kashmir and Afghanistan to the mountains of western Sichuan and has given rise to many horticultural hybrids and selections, including the rose known as R. moschata.

Rosa brunonii is one of the finest of climbers for temperate climates. Their hybrids are often hardier than the species. They are among the most rewarding of all small flowered ramblers.

Rosa brunonii Lindley is a Himalayan musk rose. This deciduous shrub has arching stems 5 – 12 high, which can grow taller up a tree. The leaves are large (15 – 25 cm long) with prickly, glandular rachis.

The leaflets are large 7 cm long drooping, narrowly ovate to elliptic, acute or acuminate, greyish green and glaucous above, and occasionally hairy or downy beneath; the margins have simple, regular teeth.

The flowers are creamy white in bud but open pure white, single, 3 – 4 cm across, and carried in large corymbose clusters fairly late in the season. The clusters are often combined into one huge compound inflorescence measuring as much as 35 cm across.

The flowers have a strong musky scent. The long sepals reflex during flowering, then drops off. The hips are round or obovoid, red, shiny and 1 – 2 cm across.

Rosa moschata Miller is a cultivated plant and variable in its characteristics. Rosa moschata is said to be less vigorous than R. brunonii with greener leaves, broader leaflets, larger flowers, acuminate petals and larger corymbs.

Semi double and double forms have been known since the seventeenth century. The semi-double R. brunonii ‘Autumnalis’ is sometimes attributed to R. moschata. Rosa phoenicia Boissier is close to R. moschata but not in cultivation outside its native Turkey.
Rosa brunonii and Hybrids
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