Flower of the Day – April 20, 2012

Flower of the Day – April 20, 2012

‘Bouquet of Red Stripes’, Red Striped Roses, Hillsboro, Oregon 

While I realized this post is for the flower of the day, but what better than having a dozen or so flowers for a day. These roses caught my eye and brightened the days full of rain, with a ray of sun and red; simple, exquisite, and mysterious. Striped roses? Genetically engineered, without a doubt. I merely wondered when and which rose historically carried the genetic code for stripes? I couldn’t post these beautiful roses without knowing how these they hybridized. I shall refer to this inquiry as the sleeping scientists mind waking for a moment in space and time.

Striped roses today, are in fact hybrids of the Rosa mundi plant. Rosa mundi is the oldest striped variety of rose grown. According to the floral experts, these beauties were first discovered during the time of Henry II (1154 to 1189), and named after Rosamund Clifford, his mistress. Today, Rosa mundi is the result of the hybridization of Rosa gallica. Rosa. gallica  spp. officinalis is presumed to derive from the Middle East, by crusaders around 1250, and was the only plant or one of the only plants to effectively hybridize. Scientists revert to officinalis when ‘Rosa mundi’ is grown on its own roots.

That said, Rosa gallica stripes have a physiological origin which is likely due to the viral infection. If the cultivars are free of a virus for micropropagation the flowers emerge pure without stripes, those which carry the virus result with the beautiful variety of the striped versions. It was not until roughly 100 years ago that genetically transmissible stripes first appeared. So what this means is the original variety of Rosa mundi, the result of a viral infection where scientists hybridized this rose with a variety of rose species before successfully producing roses with stripes. This success is clear by the beautiful roses in today’s “Flower of the Day.”

Historically, striped roses were most popular in the early 19th century and as the times changed so did the varietal of roses and the stripe variety waned. Today, the great number of recently introduced striped roses suggest they are returning to fashion. We noticed some varieties of these at the Portland Rose Gardens this past summer and in the florists shops around Portland area, indicating this species of rose is growing once again in popularity. There are several varieties of colors including pale pinks, bluish hue, tan, and yellow. In case you were wondering.


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