Page 1


The genus Rosa has long presented problems to the E u r o p e a n rhodologists and in the 19th Century this interest rose to a peak with many distinguished botanists striving to find a satisfactory Classification. T h e most eminent of these, Frangois Crepin, published the results of his researches in 1894, to be followed in 1920 by H . Wolley-Dod with his 'Revision of the British Roses', which still remains an indispensable textbook, though probably overdue for re-revision. It was not, however, until the study of cytology gained ground that the answer to the main enigmas of Classification could be explained by the a b n o r m a l system of sexual reproduction operating in most of the British species. Of the 15 here dealt with, all but 2 have this character, the exceptions being Rosa arvensis and R. pimpinellifolia. T o put it as simply as possible, this involves a shuffling, loss and re-absorption of chromosomes during meiosis resulting in the majority passing into the embryo to the deprivation of the pollen. This produces in the progeny a strong matroclinal tendency and a great potential for hybridisation. Present day research seems likely to eliminate as m o d e r n hybrids some of the groups listed by Wolley-Dod as stable varieties. T h e British Roses seem to have arrived comparatively late in geological time - possibly already as hybrids; the earliest records for the Eastern Counties of which I am aware are macroscopic remains, together with those of other plants of open habitat, in the H o x n e beds in Suffolk and the Histon Road beds in C a m b r i d g e , both dating back to the late Interglacials. T h e species must then have been subjected to upheavals and climatic changes which may help to explain their somewhat erratic distribution. Probably they did not settle down to increase and multiply until man's clearance of primeval forest had provided the right habitats of woodland edge, scrub, and hedgebank. In recent time Suffolk has lost hundreds of miles of such habitats by hedge eradication, scrub clearance, and drifting herbicide spray, so that it is urgent to conserve what remains. Some species show a marked northerly or southerly preference; R. arvensis, R. stylosa and R. tomentosa thin out northwards and are rare or absent in Scotland. R. villosa and R. sherardii are mainly northerners; R. obtusifolia seems to have an eastward tendency and R. afzeliana a westward. The overall study of distribution has been confused in the Atlas by including R. sherardii and R. tomentosa with R. villosa, and similarly R. obtusifolia and R. coriifolia with R. canina. In a short paper detailed description is unpracticable because of the great mutability of all the species except R. arvensis and R. pimpinellifolia which are the two of regulär balanced reproduction (though still occasionally hybridising) and are generally readily recognizable. In most cases it is necessary t o t a k e a n u m b e r o f characters into account, both t h e more obvious ones of size. habit, leaf serration, pubescence, and glandulosity, which may

Trans. Suffolk

Nat. Soc.




indeed vary from one part of the plant to another. but also the intimate details of floral construction, which are rather more constant. Rosa arvensis Huds. (Field Rose) A trailing shrub, more tolerant than most of shade and poor drainage. e.g. in Wolves Wood, Hadleigh and Bradfield Woods: it has modest prickles, neat, usually uniserrate leaflets and white flowers on long, usually glandulär peduncles. The styles are very diagnostic, being agglutinated in a column from a conical disc and long persistent in fruit. It is very common in woodland and hedges on the heavier soils. R. pimpinellifolia L. (Burnet Rose) This seems to be the most selective of the species as regards habitat. It is typically a plant of dry stabilised dunes near to the coast or occasionally inland on calcareous outcrops. It is a bushy low-growing and densely prickly shrub with white flowers and blackish hips. native to the north-east of the County and very local (yet strangely tolerant of garden culture). R. stylosa Desv. This, in its rarer and more sensitive forms, is mainly of southern distribution, but in its commonest, i.e. var. systyla (Bast.) Baker, is frequent in Suffolk hedges which are fairly sheltered and on basic soil. W.-Dod gives Suffolk as its most northerly Station and this may still be true, as the authors of the Flora of Norfolk have not been able to confirm earlier records. It is normally a tall spreading shrub with rather regularly elliptic leaflets. well spaced on the rachis and pubescent beneath. Peduncles are long, glandulär, and the styles protrude in a fountain (not a column) from a very conical disc. R. canina L. (Dog Rose) The Caninae form the largest and most variable series. W.-Dod lists a multitude of segregates, some of which are probably modern hybrids. It seems tolerant o f m o s t conditions excepting Elm dominated hedgebanks, to which all roses seem allergic. The leading variety of the first group, var. luteliana (Lern.) Baker, can be taken as the type from which others differ to a greater or lesser degree. It is a robust bush, eglandular and glabrous with strong curved prickles, variable in flower colour and fruit shape with simply serrate leaflets. R. dumetorum Desv. This is included, in the Flora, under R. canina, but differs from it in varying degrees of pubescence and glandulosity whilst resembling it in mutability. It may well be that many of the varieties and forms listed by W.-Dod may come to be disrated as modern hybrids. It is equally common with R. canina. R. afzeliana Fr. ( = R. glauca Vill.) This species seems to be unrecorded from Suffolk and may be of western distribution, as it occurs in Carmarthenshire at about the same degree of latitude. I have not found it to be common anywhere. It is a very fine rose with often glaucous foliage setting off the deep pink flower colour and large early ripening fruit on short peduncles. A flat woolly head of styles caps the Wide orifice of a flat disc.

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 18 part 4.


Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 18, Part 4

R. coriifolia Fr. This species may be described as a pubescent form of the last. It seems to be rare in Suffolk but most likely is under-recorded. As var. sub-collina Christ, it has been collected by Mrs. E. M. Hyde from the river bank at Woolverstone and I have found the much smaller var. cryptopoda (Baker) W.-Dod in a hedge at Blaxhall. R. obtusifolia Desv. Not an easy subject for determination, as the shape of the leaflets may belie the name. Typically however very robust with ferocious thorns at least on some main branches: the leaflets large, broad, and doubly glandul채r serrate and the short peduncles nestled amongst broad bracts. It seems to be well distributed inland, but not common anywhere. R. tomentosa Sm. A tall arching shrub with glandul채r biserrate tomentose leaflets, which can be faintly aromatic. The sepals fall early leaving the regul채r oval fruits hanging bare on long peduncles. It is as frequent in Suffolk hedges now as it was recorded to be in 1889, but not on very light sandy soil. R. sherardii Davies This is a very distinctive rose typically compact, with straight fine prickles, suckering, and clothed in soft, grey green, hairy glandul채r biserrate leaflets with many strongly aromatic subfoliar glands and deep pink to red flowers. The hips are large, early ripening and crowned by sub-persistent sepals. It is not recorded in Hind's Flora, but has two authenticated records in Norfolk and one recent specimen was sent to me from Cambridge, so that it is possible that it may be found yet in the north of the County. R. villosa L. This being a true northerner is unlikely to occur in Suffolk. There seems to be only one authenticated recent record for Norfolk and none for Cambridge. It islike unto R. sherardii in all its parts, but with the characters more strongly developed. The leaves are markedly parallel sided and the internodes very straight. Its variety pomifera (Herrn.) Desv. is spectacular with large apple-shaped fruits. R. rubiginosa L. (Sweetbriar) This must be familiar to everyone, if only in its garden forms. Hind's Flora describes it as 'frequent' in Suffolk and states that it used to be planted to protect young whitethorn hedges from sheep. Its frequency seems to have departed with the sheep and the whitethorn hedges, but it is still scattered, mostly in localities near the coast line or on old heathland. Where it occurs well inland, as at Dallinghoo, it may be a relict from its anti-ovine duties. 1 have seen it at Snape, Hollesley Bay, Hollesley Heath, Leiston, Kesgrave and Dallinghoo, but am not aware of the distribution in the north of Suffolk. R. micrantha Borrer ex Sm. (Small Sweetbriar) This is a small-flowered species, but its leaflets and prickles are larger and less distinctive than those of rubiginosa-, fruit small to very small and

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 18 part 4.



sometimes markedly contracted beneath the disc. Hind gives many stations for it and so does the Flora of Norfolk, although ranking it as rare. It seems to be uncommon in Suffolk, though probably under-recorded. I have seen it at Kesgrave, Theberton and near Dunwich; quite recently it has been found at Iken by the Misses Copinger Hill. I must emphasize that I have not been long resident in Suffolk and that much more, and much wider field work is necessary to do any sort of justice to this subject. References Clapham, A. R., Tutin, T. G . & Warburg, E . F. (1962). Flora ofthe British Isles. Cambridge, (referred to as The Flora). Crepin, F. (1899). Sketch of a new Classification of roses. J. R. hรถrt. Soc 11 217. Godwin, H. (1956). Historv ofthe British Flora. Cambridge. Hind, W. M. (1889). Flora of Suffolk. London. Melville, R. (1967). The problem of Classification in the genus Rosa. Bull. Jard. Bot. Nat. Belg. 37, 39. Melville, R. (1975). Rosa L. in Stace C. A . , ed. Hybridization and the Flora ofthe British Isles. London. Perring, F. H . & Walters, S. M., eds. (1962). Atlas of the British Flora. London, (referred to as The Atlas). Perring, F. H . , Seil, P. D., A . Walters, S. M. (1964). A Flora of Cambridgeshire. Cambridge. Petch, C. P., Swann, E. L. (1968). Flora of Norfolk. Norwich. Wolley-Dod, A. H. (1920). A Revision ofthe British Roses. I. M. Vaughan, 20, St. John's Terrace, Woodbridge IP12 1HP.

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 18 part 4.

An introductory note on the native Roses of Suffolk  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you