Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Synstylae Species

All rambling roses and most of our modern garden roses are descended from Synstylae species. The Synstylae are a group within the genus Rosa, which includes such important species as R. multiflora and R. wichurana, each of which has been extensively used to breed garden hybrids.

There is one characteristic which distinguishes the Synstylae roses from all others: they have a projecting column of fused styles at the center of the flower.

Synstylae roses tend to have lots of small white flowers in large clusters. They also tend (but there are exceptions here too) to have a string musky scent.

This differs from species to species in both quality and degree.

Some such as Rosa setigera are commonly scentless, but muskiness is unique to the Synstylae and very distinctive. Another characteristic of the section is of horticultural significance - they flower late. When this characteristic is transmitted to their garden progeny, it will climbing until late into the season.

One of the most important events in the history of the rose was the development of dwarf, bushy, repeat-flowering growth among the garden roses of China. This is usually thought to have occurred as a mutation in Rosa chinensis, but the phenomenon also occurs within the Synstylae section.

The Synstylae roses are native of every continent in the Northern Hemisphere, from North America across Europe and all of Asia, with a concentration of species in a rapid state of evolution in the Himalayas and western China.

Some species are distinct and immediately recognizable (e.g., Rosa soulieana), but others dissolve in a confusion of subspecies, varieties and forms.
Synstylae Species
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