Species and species hybrids

Rosa hugonis (photo © Howard Rice)

Species are native only to regions north of the equator, from North America through Europe, North Africa, the Middle East to Asia. There are about 150 species in total, the majority in Asia. Most are shades of pink or white with a few reds and yellows. All have five petals with the exception of the sericea group which only has four.

Fragrance is very variable in strength and type, as is habit and height. R. spinosissima, when growing in sand dunes, is only about 10cm/4” tall, whereas the big climbing species, like R. filipes, native to the warmer parts of Asia, will grow 20m/60ft up into trees. With very few exceptions all flower once but then all produce hips which are very variable in shape, size and colour, some lasting through the winter, others dropping off as soon as ripe.

A number are very garden worthy (like R. hugonis and R. moyesii) looking beautiful in meadows, in borders or growing up into trees. Autumn leaf colour is excellent in some. They need little or no maintenance and shouldn’t be pruned at all.

The species hybridise readily crossing with a very wide range of varieties. The main difference will be in the petal count ranging from the original five to fully double. Not all will set hips.