Rosa roxburghii Tratt.

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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

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'Rosa roxburghii' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2023-09-24.


Common Names

  • Burr Rose


  • R. microphylla Roxb. ex Lindl. (1820), not Desf. (1798)
  • R. forrestii Focke
  • R. roxburghii var. hirtula (Reg.) Rehd. & Wils.
  • R. microphylla var. hirtula Reg.
  • R. hirtula (Reg.) Nakai


Sharply pointed.
(pl. apices) Tip. apical At the apex.
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
Egg-shaped; broadest towards the stem.
Central axis of an inflorescence cone or pinnate leaf.
Enlarged end of a flower stalk that bears floral parts; (in some Podocarpaceae) fleshy structure bearing a seed formed by fusion of lowermost seed scales and peduncle.
(var.) Taxonomic rank (varietas) grouping variants of a species with relatively minor differentiation in a few characters but occurring as recognisable populations. Often loosely used for rare minor variants more usefully ranked as forms.


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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Rosa roxburghii' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2023-09-24.

A sturdy bush that, in its normal single-flowered form, grows up to 10 ft high and as much in width; bark grey or fawn, peeling; branches stiff, armed with a few rigid, straight prickles in pairs. Leaves 2 to 4 in. long, consisting of nine to seventeen or even nineteen leaflets; rachis downy and with a few prickles. Leaflets elliptic, ovate or oblong-ovate, up to 1 in. or slightly more long, obtuse or acute at the apex, rounded to cuneate at the base, glabrous on both sides or downy beneath, simply toothed. Flowers usually solitary, delicate rose, 2 to 212 in. across, pleasantly fragrant (for the flowers of the type, which are double, see below); pedicels and receptacle prickly. Sepals broadly ovate, lobed, downy. Fruits flattened, tomato-shaped, 112 in. across, very spiny, yellowish green, fragrant.

Native of China and Japan; the type of the species was a double-flowered garden variety introduced from China to the Calcutta Botanic Garden, where it had long been cultivated (see below). The next introduction was of the Japanese race sometimes distinguished as var. hirtula, to which most single-flowered plants in gardens probably belong (Bot. Mag., t. 6548 (1881)). The wild single-flowered form of China (f. normalis Rehd. & Wils.) was introduced by Wilson, according to whom it is abundant by waysides and in semi-arid river-valleys throughout the warmer parts of W. Szechwan.

R. roxburghii is a most distinct rose, with its peeling bark, its small, numerous leaflets, and especially by its large, spiny, apple-like fruit with no hint of red in it even when fully ripe. In the leafless state its open habit, stiff branches and peeling bark scarcely suggest a rose. The flowers tend to be concealed by the foliage but are deliciously fragrant and much visited by bees.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

The wild Chinese form of this species (f. normalis) was reintroduced by Roy Lancaster from the Yiba Shan in western Szechwan in 1981 (L.817). It has flowered, and is likely to prove very distinct from the Japanese form long grown in gardens, both in habit and foliage. The plants seen by Wilson in western Szechwan early this century were only 2–4 ft high, with obovate or narrowly ovate leaflets. The Japanese plants grow much taller and their leaflets are mostly elliptic or oblong-elliptic. The main difference, however, is that in the latter the leaflets are downy beneath. Plants of Japanese provenance can be distinguished as var. hirtula (Reg.) Rehd. & Wils.

'Roxburghii' ('Plena')

As mentioned above, the type of R. roxburghii is a double-flowered form of Chinese gardens, cultivated in the Calcutta Botanic Garden. This was introduced, probably direct from China, and first flowered in Colvill’s nursery, Chelsea, in 1824. The flowers are fully double, the outer petals light pink, the inner darker (Bot. Reg., t. 919; Bot. Mag., t. 3490). It is much less robust than the common single-flowered form.R. roxburghii has produced no notable hybrids, though it has been crossed to a limited extent. It is interesting that it has had some influence on the Floribunda race, through a cross with the Floribunda ‘Baby Château’, which produced ‘Cinnabar’, ‘Floradora’ and ‘Kate Duvigneau’. For its hybrids ‘Jardin de la Croix’ and ‘Triomphe de la Guillotière’, not treated here, see G. S. Thomas, Shrub Roses, p. 180, and his Climbing Roses, p. 154, respectively. For ‘Coryana’, a seedling of R. roxburghii, see p. 178. For R. roxburghii × R. rugosa see R. × micrugosa under the latter species.