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A shrub to about 5 ft high in gardens, which, in the commonly cultivated form, suckers freely, and soon forms a dense mass of erect stems, dividing at the top into heads of stiff, brownish red branches and twigs; sucker-stems stout, densely clad with bristles and needles, in marked contrast to the branches, which bear prickles in pairs at the nodes but are otherwise unarmed (for the shape of the prickles see below). Leaves glossy green above, 3 to 5 in. long, composed of usually seven, sometimes nine leaflets, which are mostly obovate or oblong-obovate or oblong-elliptic, 1 to 2 in. long, rather coarsely toothed except towards the base, glabrous above, often the same below, but occasionally downy on the midrib as well as on the rachis. Stipules leafy, widening toward the apex. Flowers borne in July or early August in clusters of often three, sometimes solitary, 2 to 21⁄2 in. across, pink. Pedicels and receptacle smooth or glandular. Sepals about 1 in. long, with long, slender points, glandular and downy, entire or with a few slender appendages. Fruits orange-shaped, 1⁄2 in. wide, red, crowned at first with spreading sepals which fall away when the fruit is ripe.
Native of eastern North America; in cultivation since early in the 18th century, perhaps earlier. It is a useful plant for forming thickets in the wild garden, but is too invasive for a choice position, which it would otherwise deserve, for its late-flowering and its glossy, always healthy foliage, turning red and purple in the autumn. It thrives in any soil but flowers better in one on the dry side. It is an excellent rose for windy positions.
The plant described above is probably an old clone of European gardens. It differs in two respects from R. virginiana as described in American works: it suckers freely, and its nodal prickles are straighter and more slender. In these two respects it resembles R. carolina but it is certainly not that species, though perhaps an intermediate or hybrid between them (such plants occur in the wild). It should be remarked that R. lucida Ehrh., once the established name for this species, was based on plants cultivated in Germany. Ehrhart did not mention the prickles or habit, but R. lucida, as cultivated in the Harbke arboretum, was suckering and had awl-shaped prickles, as in the common garden clone described above (Du Roi, Harbk. Baumzucht, ed. 2, Vol. 2 (1800), p. 564).
R. virginiana is recorded as an escape from gardens in some parts of Europe and was once used for fixing sand-dunes in the Loire estuary.
For R. virginiana var. alba and var. grandiflora, see R. carolina.
This species was once generally known as R. lucida Ehrh. (1789), but sometimes as R. carolina, with which it was confused. The earlier name R. virginiana Mill. (1768) was not in use, or at least not widely, until Baker took it up in Willmott’s The Genus Rosa (Vol. 1 (1911), p. 197), and has since become established. Unfortunately it was overlooked that the name R. virginiana was first published by J. Herrmann in his Dissertatio (1762). This change of author would present no difficulties if Herrmann and Miller were describing the same species, but this is very doubtfully the case. Herrmann’s R. virginiana was described from a herbarium specimen given to him by a friend in the Leyden Botanic Garden as ‘Rosa virginiana, of all roses the smallest’, and from his description it is difficult to believe that he was looking at R. virginiana Mill. (branch half-a-line (1/24 in.) thick, prickles flexible, flower apparently white, solitary, 1 in. wide, leaflets roundish, almost truncate at the apex, etc.). But R. virginiana does have very dwarf and anomalous forms, so it seems best to maintain the name R. virginiana with Herrmann as its author, until the matter has been dealt with by an American authority.
R. turgida Pers.
R. lucida fl. pleno Savi
R. virginiana f. plena Rehd