Rosa Damascena, var. Rubrotincta Hort written by Ellen Willmott

Hebe's Lip

Hebe's Lip

Rosa damascena, var. rubrotincta: a typo recidit petalis albis, apice rubrotinctis.

Stem green, erect. Prickles very irregular, the largest stout, strongly hooked, intermixed with copious unequal straight aciculi. Leaflets 5-7, oblong, obtuse, rather rugose, simply crenate, dull green and glabrous above, slightly pubescent beneath, the end one cordate at the base; petioles pubescent and slightly glandular, stipules narrow, adnate, with small ovate free tips. Flowers few in a corymb; peduncles densely setose. Calyx-tube globose, naked; lobes ovate-cuspidate, glandular on the back, the outer copiously pinnatifid. Petals large, white, with outside edges lightly tinged with pink. Styles villous, free, not protruded. Fruit globose, late in ripening; sepals deciduous.


This beautiful old garden favourite is a variety of the Damask Rose, in which the characters of Rosa gallica L. predominate. From the typical Rosa gallica it differs by its larger and stouter hooked prickles, less coriaceous leaves, longer peduncles, more abundant flowers, white petals edged with pink after the manner of a picotee, and sepals falling at an earlier stage of the fruit. It is consequently nearly allied to Rosa damascena Mill. and Rosa alba L. No doubt it is a garden hybrid, of which Rosa gallica is the predominate parent, and perhaps Rosa alba the other. By William Paul (1) it is classified as a "Hybrid Perpetual," but nothing is really known of its origin. It is popularly known as "Hebe's Lip" or "Reine Blanche."

In a paper on "Decorative Roses" read by Mr. Girdlestone at the Rose Conference of the Royal Horticultural Society at Chiswick on July 2nd and 3rd, 1889 (2), reference is made to Hebe's Lip, " a garden variety classed as a hybrid Sweet Briar, beautiful exceedingly, having large, substantial, creamy white petals with a picotee edge of purple." The description of the flower would answer to Rosa damascena (Hebe's Lip), but the mention of Sweet Briar points to Janet's Pride, whose flowers could likewise be described as picotee edged.

1. Rose Garden, ed. 9, p. 288 (1888).
2. Journ. Hort. Soc. Vol. xi. pt. iii. P. 200.

Text from The Genus Rosa by Ellen Willmott, 1910
Drawing of Hebe's Lip by Alfred Parsons
photo of Hebe's Lip