Friday 28 May 2010
Three interesting roses
The other two roses are much less attractive and both are grown in the polytunnel for protection against the worst of the winter. Rosa abyssinica is a big prickly 'dog rose' with smallish white flowers that are at least pleasantly scented, and have a profusion of golden anthers. It would be of limited horticultural merit even if hardy, but when I tried it against the cottage wall here it was killed to the ground each winter. It is, however, of great botanical interest, as it is the only rose native to sub-Saharan Africa, occurring in the Ethiopian highlands and the mountains of Yemen across the Bab el Mandeb, a distribution paralleled by Primula verticillata and a few other plants. In the wild it grows on dryish banks and forest edges, scrambling about through other shrubs and trees. When I last saw it in the wild, in Ethiopia in 2007, I was amused to see it showing the unmistakeable black spot fungus that plagues rose growers here. The plant here, however, is of Yemeni origin.