The Wild Rose: The Ancestor Of All Roses

What type of roses you love depends entirely on your preferences, and what you associate with certain forms and rose colors and perfume. One rose that never seems to get the limelight is the species rose, or the wild rose.

It’s less well-known than hybrid tea roses which are normally those in bouquets and arrangements, or heirloom roses with their great perfume and large blooms, but it’s still worthy of a place on anyone’s must-grow list.

Here’s what you need to know. 

The Hearsay Surrounding Wild Roses

One thing that you have to keep in mind, before we get started, is that the rose is surrounded by myth, and misconception about what a wild rose really is. 

If you asked someone what the rose in their garden is, and they reply “It’s a wild one”, what they really mean is “I didn’t plant it. It was here before I got here.” Maybe six times out of ten, the first statement would be wrong. 

The majority of roses you might assume are wild – especially those with very large flowers or lots of petals – are still cultivated roses. They have been created by us.

Even if it just appeared, it’s probably an escapee from a neighboring garden, or it’s been wallowing in the dark for years before you cut back a hedge and finally there’s some light to let a rose someone planted 50 years ago have its day.

Don’t mistake the rose for its delicate appearance, and assume it’s just as fragile.

Most cultivars are tougher than people give them credit for, and since the plant has been around long before Ancient Rome and Egypt, it’s safe to say the rose will be around long after we’re gone. 

What Is A Wild Rose?

A wild rose is part of the rose plant family, as you can imagine.

While most roses have been bred by humans to produce larger flowers in different colors, to produce more flowers or in different colors, or to grow in different conditions and resist disease, wild roses haven’t been altered at all by us. 

They are wildflowers. While they come from different parts of the world including North America, Asia, and Europe, they all have a single-form flower, featuring five petals each. 

The majority of wild roses are pink, but you may see them in white, red, or rarer, in yellow. 

At first, these plants weren’t ornamental, but we’d use the rose hips for medicinal and culinary purposes. 

All modern roses descend from species roses, or wild roses. Every single one!

It’s worth mentioning that wild roses have one drawback. Despite being disease resistant, colorful, and usually highly scented, the blooms on a species rose don’t live for long. 

These gorgeous roses only have a short flowering window for the whole year, so  you should enjoy them while you can.

Don’t Take A Wild Rose At It’s Name

The common names of some plants are interchangeable, and it can be confusing which plant is actually being talked about. 

If someone was talking about a money tree, for instance, they might mean a Crassula ovata, also known as the jade plant, or Pachira aquatica, the Malabar chestnut, which are two entirely different plants, both believed to bring luck if grown in the home.

With wild roses, there are few interchangeable common names, too. To make things more obscure, these names can mean different plants in different places, such as Pasture Rose, Dog Rose, or Prairie Rose.

Always go by the scientific names where you can, and this will help eliminate any confusion.

Wild Rose Species To Try

Rosa rubiginosa ‘Sweet Brier Rose’

Hailing from Europe and western parts of Asia, the sweetbriar rose is a lovely shrub which can grow to 3 meters tall, reaching just as wide. 

The stems feature lots of thorns (the name briar is a warning!), so it’s not a good idea to grow it as an arch that you have to walk close to in order to get where you’re going.

One of the most interesting things about the sweet brier rose is that the leaves smell like apples!

When it blooms, the sweetbriar rose produces pink flowers, turning white at the very base of the bloom, featuring bright yellow stamens.

These roses appear in groups, at most there might be 7 at once, and there might be as few as a single pair. They bloom from the last few weeks of spring, into the height of summer, and are swiftly followed by hips.

Some grafted roses are based on the root stock of the briar rose, providing the new plant with a vigorous growth habit and a robust nature.

It’s worth mentioning that the sweetbriar rose is classed as invasive in some places, so make sure you check before you plant it.

Rosa canina ‘Dog Rose’

This shrub rose comes from Europe, Asia, and Africa. While it is a shrub rose, it is also a climbing one, sending out long shoots, so it is best grown against a support.

The good news is that you won’t have to train it very much, as the hooked thorns on the stems help the shoots to anchor themselves. 

The dog rose can get to a maximum of 16 feet tall, though it has been known to climb higher if it’s managed to grow up a tree! 

This rose will bloom for about a month, bringing both fragrance and color into your garden, in shades of delicious pink or white.

These are followed by rose hips.

While the dog rose only flowers for a short time, it will tolerate different conditions with ease, including heavy clay or coastal gardens. 

There are a few things that this rose cannot stand, however. Like with most roses, the dog rose shades full shade, boggy soil, or extremely dry soil.

Final Thoughts 

Wild roses are very beautiful plants, worthy of any garden. While they don’t have as great a flowering window as the modern cultivars, these are very tough plants that will give you plenty of color and fragrance during the summer. 

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