Polyantha roses derive from a Chinese climbing rose called Rosa multiflora (multiflora means many-flowered in Latin, and polyantha same in Greek). Hybrids between this white, many-flowered species and the hardy, bushy China roses gave rise to cultivated climbers in various shades of white, cream and pink.
The first Polyantha roses were open-pollinated seedlings of these climbers, but turned out to be dwarf bushes that carry up to 100 small flowers in clusters. Back-crosses to China roses, and sometimes the Noisettes, gave rise to a popular race of small, musk-scented, perpetual-flowering roses. ‘Marie-Jeanne’ 1913 is a good example.