Roses - An illustrated encyclopaedia and grower's handbook of species roses, old roses and modern roses, shrub roses and climbers
Species Roses and Hybrid Species Roses
(Botanic Roses,
Wild Roses and their Hybrids)
Species roses are the original wild roses. Their main characteristics are that they will grow true from seed and usually have only 5 petals, the only exception being R. sericea, which has four petals. Typical species roses colors are pink, white, yellow or red. Species roses have colorful hips and are more thorny and prickly than other roses.
R. sericea ptheracantha
The only species of the genus Rosa with 4 petals only
Source: Roses by Peter Beales
R. sericea ptheracantha x R. bugonis 'Red Wing'
A plant with characteristic red, wedge-shaped thorns.


The conclusion is that it is difficult to draw a line between the three groups, but at the same time, we think it is important to keep a distinction between these three groups (Old Garden Roses, Modern Garden Roses and Species Roses or Wild Roses) as each of them possesses truly distinctive characteristics which make them all three interesting for the rose collector. A nicely designed rose garden should therefore include at least some representatives of each of the three groups.

A group of medium-sized ramblers and scramblers used as tree-climbing roses or ground-covering roses. All roses in this group are very hardy and robust, with flower colors ranging from white to pink.

Some of the best Ayrshires:
'The Field Rose', 'Janet B. Wood' (1984), 'Splendens' (also called 'The Myrrh-scented Rose')

Banks Roses and Hybrid Banksia
A group of roses that grow in the wild in some parts of the world, but are cherished by rosarians who are found of rose rarities.

Most popular 'Banks' Roses or Hybrid Banksia:
'Yellow Banksia' (1825), R. banksiae lutescens (1870), Purezza (1950)

Hybrid Bracteata
A group of viciously thorned roses: 'The Macartney Rose' (1793), 'Mermaid' (1917).

Hybrid Canina
A group of wild roses common in Britain and Europe.
The most common is R. canine 'Dog Rose'.

Hybrid Foetida
An Asian species responsible for providing yellow in many modern roses.

For example:

'The Sulphur Rose' (pre-1625)

Hybrid Gigantea
R. gigantea is an important species, both historically and genetically, as it is the ancestor of the old Tea-scented roses cultivated in Asia.

Some Hybrid Gigantea:
'Belle Portugaise' (c. 1900), 'Senateur Amic' (1924)

Hybrid Macrantha
This species bears many similarities to R. gallica. There is no consensus whether this group is truly a wild rose. Can be used for ground-covering or as specimen shrubs.

Some Hybrid Macranta:

'Raubritter' (1967), 'Chianti' (1967)

Hybrid Multiflora
R. multiflora is a native of Korea and Japan. It was introduced to Britain in 1862.

Famous Multifloras:

'Seven Sisters' (Greville, 1817)
A legendary and collector's rose whose flowers can display up to seven different colors at the same time in one cluster, from deep carmine to pale pink, through all shades of mauve and red. Several versions have been grown under the same name since the 1800's so much controversy exist as to which is the original 'Seven Sisters' rose.

Hybrid Nitida

Hybrid Nutkana

Hybrid Rubrifolia

Hybrid Rugosa

For R. Rugosa and Hybrid Rugosa, see Rugosa Roses.

Hybrid Sericea

Hybrid Setigera

A usefull group of ramblers, which are particularly popular in the US. Most of the roses in this group flower later in season.

Some of the most popular and best Hybrid Setigera:
'Baltimore Belle' (1843), 'Long John Silver' (1934)

Hybrid Stellata
R. stellata (1902) and R. stellata 'Mirifica' (1926) are two most common species in this group.

Known as evergreen roses in Victorian times, Sempervirens roses make useful dense ramblers and ideal subjects for arches, pergolas and walls.

Some of the best Sempervirens roses:

'Adelaide d'Orléans' (France, 1826); 'Félicité et Perpétue' (France, 1827), 'Princesse Louise' (1829)

Scotch Roses (Pimpinellifolia)
A group of roses resulting from crosses with wild Scotch Rose, which were very popular in the 1800s. Newer taller shrubs were developed by Kordes in the 1940s and 50s.

Some of the best Pimpinellifolia:
'Stanwell Perpetual' (Lee, 1838), 'Frülingsgold' (Kordes, 1937)

Sweet Briars (Hybrid Eglanteria)
also called Rubiginosa Roses
Roses in this group are closely related to the dog rose. Their main characteristic is the singular apple perfume of their foliage.

Some of the best Sweet briar roses:

'Goldbush' (Kordes, 1954), 'La Belle Distinguée' (unknown, but very old), 'Magnifica' (1926)
Unless otherwise specified photos on this page © Alessandro Carocci Buzi and Lilly's Rose Garden.
Their is still much controversy on which roses are true species or species hybrids. Some consider them a category on their own while others include some of them under the Old Garden Roses. Hybrid Bracteata, Hybrid Foetida, Hybrid Multiflora and Hybrid Setigera, for example, are now classified under Old Garden Roses by the American Rose Society. Reversely, Ayshire (see Old Garden Roses) and Hybrid Kordesii (see Modern Roses) are considered Species Roses by some rose breeders.
Recommended Reading
Roses. Old Roses and Species Roses
Old Roses and Species Roses
by Paul Starosta (Author), Eleonore Cruse (Author)

More information:
An illustrated encyclopaedia and grower's handbook of species roses, old roses and modern roses, shrub roses and climbers
More information:
Lilly's Rose Garden - Ideas for planning and designing your Rose Garden
The Rose in Literature
Botany of Roses
Roses around the World