Rosa borbonica written by Ellen Willmott

Rosa borbonica Morren
(Rosa chinensis x gallica)
The Bourbon Rose

Rosa borbonicaRosa borbonica: caule viridi, arcuato; aculeis majoribus, sparsis, valde falcatis, aciculis intermixtis; foliolis 5-7, blongis, acutis, magnitudine mediocribus, simpliciter dentatis, haud rugosis, viridibus, facie lucentibus, glasbris, dorso obscure pubescentibus; rhachi parce pubescente, glandulosa; stipulis adnatis, glanduloso-ciliatis, apicibus liberis parvis; floribus vel solitariis, vel paucis, corymbosis; pedunculis glandulosis; bracteis lanceolatis, glanduloso-ciliatis; calyces tubo globoso; saepe plus minusve setoso; lobis ovato-acuminatis, I poll. longis, dorso glandulosis, exterioribus pinnatifidis; stylis liberis, villosis, haud protrusis; fructu globoso; sepalis deciduis.

R. borbonica Morren in Ann. de Gand, vol. ii. t. 42 (1846).
R. canina burboniana Thory in Redouté, Roses, vol. iii. p. 105, t. (1824).

Stem green, arching. Prickles rather large, scattered, strongly hooked, intermixed with a few aciculi. Leaflets 5-7, oblong, acute, middle-sized, simply toothed, not at all rugose, bright green, rather glossy and glabrous above, obscurely pubescent beneath; petioles slightly pubescent and glandular; stipules adnate, gland-ciliated, with small free tips. Flowers one or few in a corymb; peduncles glandular; bracts lanceolate, gland-ciliated. Calyx-tube globose, often more or less setose; lobes ovate-acuminate, 1 in. long, glandular on the back, the outer pinnatifid. Styles free, villous, not protruded. Fruit rarely produced, globose; sepals deciduous.


The Bourbon Rose was first figured by Redouté in the year 1824. In the text Thory gives a good description and the following account of it:

"This Rose, according to His Highness the Duke of Orleans, grows naturally in uncultivated places in the Island of Bourbon. Seeds brought from there some years ago have reproduced it in his garden at Neuilly, where our drawing for this work was made. Its appearance is very beautiful. The abundance of its flowers, which are sometimes nearly single, but more often semi-double, their beautiful colour and perfume, will no doubt make it much sought after for out-door gardens."

M. Louiseleur-Deslongchamps (1) says that his race of Roses was so called because it originated on the Island of Bourbon, where it is customary to make hedges and palisades with the Bengal Rose and Rosa gallica L. The hedges are clipped two or three times a year, and, except during a season of great drought, one or other of these Roses is always to be found in flower. A M. Périchon, an inhabitant of the island, on planting a quantity of seedling roses raised for a hedge, found one very different from the rest and planted it apart. On flowering it proved to be distinct from any rose hitherto known. In the year 1817 a French botanist, M. Bréon, was put in charge of the Royal Botanic garden established on the island. M. Périchon's seedling Rose interested him greatly, and after careful investigation he came to the conclusion that it originated from a natural cross between the two species named above. At that time there were no other Roses whatever growing on the island. In 1819 M. Bréon sent seeds and the plants of the new Rose to Jaques, gardener to the Duke of Orleans at Neuilly near Paris, and from these have sprung the whole race of Bourbon Roses. It is more than probably that both the seeds and plants, which arrived in Paris under the name Rose Edward, were the result of a second cross, and that they had been fertilized again with one or other of the parents. Other writers have given the date of introduction of this Rose into France as 1823 and 1824.

The first variations from this type appeared in 1831. They were raised by Desprez of Guignes, Seine-et Marne, and under the names of Charles Desprez and Mme. Desprez are still to be found in gardens. A few years later Desprez raised purple and red varieties, and then Plantier of Lyons and other growers continued to introduce novelties of greater or less merit. In 1843 Deluz of Lyons raised the beautiful and still favourite rose Souvenir de la Malmaison. The Rose Konprinzessin Victoria von Preussen, sometimes called the Yellow Malmaison, which was introduced by Volvert in 1888, was a sport from the original Souvenir de la Malmaison.

Mr. William Paul (2) enumerates forty-six varieties of the Bourbon Rose, in a addition to thirty-eight Bourbon Perpetuals and eight Hybrid Bourbons. These Bourbon Roses are best distinguished from those originating from Rosa chinensis Jacq. by their prickles being intermixed with aciculi, by their glandular peduncles, and by their more compound calyx-segments, which are glandular on the back. All the Bourbon Roses preserve the characteristic of perpetual flowering.

1. La Rose, p. 287 (1844)
2. Rose Garden, ed. ix. p. 295 (1888).

Text from The Genus Rosa by Ellen Willmott, 1910
Drawing of Rosa borbonica by Alfred Parsons