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A deciduous shrub up to 2 ft high, with slender leafy shoots and of lax habit; young shoots thickly covered with starry down and armed with straight, pale, yellowish white, slender spines 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 in. long, mixed with which are tiny prickles and stalked glands. Leaves 3⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. long, composed of usually three, sometimes five leaflets; rachis glandular-downy. Leaflets wedge-shaped or triangular, toothed mainly or only at the broad end; teeth comparatively large, blunt, 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long, glabrous and dullish green above, greyish and slightly downy beneath. Flowers solitary, 2 to 21⁄2 in. wide, of a beautiful soft rose; petals inversely heart-shaped, deeply notched. Anthers yellow. Receptacle globose, covered with pale spines. Sepals 1⁄2 in. long, lance-shaped, two of them pinnately lobed, with a spoon-like tip, glandular and spiny outside, woolly on the margins. Fruits hemispherical, flat-topped, not fleshy, prickly, brownish red, 1⁄2 in. wide, the sepals persisting at the top.
Native of the south-western USA, where it ranges from W. Texas to Arizona. It was discovered in the Organ Mountains of New Mexico towards the end of the last century and was first grown in Britain by Dr Wallace of Broadstone, Dorset, who raised it from seeds collected in the type-locality by Prof. Cockerell of Colorado University and flowered it in 1912. A year later, in an article in Nature, Prof. Cockerell pointed out that R. stellata and the related R. minutifolia were distinct among roses in having a non-fleshy fruit with a wide orifice and oval-elongate (not angled) achenes, and proposed for them a generic or subgeneric status under the name Hesperhodos. According to Boulenger, the most significant character – fully justifying generic rank for this group – is that the receptacle entirely lacks the disk that in all other groups of Rosa, however aberrant, partly closes the mouth of the receptacle (‘Monographie du Genre Hesperhodos’, Bull. Jard. Bot. Brux., Vol. 14 (1937), pp. 227-39). Cockerell’s proposal of a possible generic rank for this group was also taken up by C. C. Hurst in Rose Annual 1929. However, other botanists consider that subgeneric rank in Rosa suffices to give recognition to the distinctness of this group.
For the cultivation of R. stellata see below.
Hesperhodos minutifolia (Engelm.) Hurst
R. stellata subsp. mirifica (Greene) W. H. Lewis
R. mirifica Greene
Hesperhodos mirificus (Greene) Boulenger