Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Gallic Rose

Rosa gallica (Gallic Rose, French Rose, or Rose of Provins) is a species of rose native to southern and central Europe eastwards to Turkey and the Caucasus. The cultivar Rosa gallica officinalis is also called Apothecary's Rose.

It is a deciduous shrub forming large patches of shrubbery, the stems with prickles and glandular bristles. The leaves are pinnate, with three to seven bluish-green leaflets. The flowers are clustered one to four together, single with five petals, fragrant, deep pink. The hips are globose to ovoid, 10-13 mm diameter, orange to brownish.

The species is easily cultivated on well drained soil in full sun to semishade; it can survive temperatures down to −25 °C. It is one of the earliest cultivated species of roses, being cultivated by the Greek and Romans and it was commonly used in Mediaeval gardens. In the 19th century it was the most important species of rose to be cultivated, and most modern European rose cultivars have at least a small contribution from R. gallica in their ancestry.

Cultivars of the species R. gallica and hybrids close in appearance are best referred to a Cultivar Group as the Gallica Group roses. The ancestry is usually unknown and the influence of other species can not be ruled out.

The Gallica Group roses share the vegetative characters of the species, forming low suckering shrubs. The flowers can be single, but most commonly double or semidouble. The colours range from white (rare) to pink and deep purple. All Gallica Group roses are once flowering. They are easily cultivated.

The semidouble cultivar 'Officinalis', the "Red Rose of Lancaster", is the county flower of Lancashire.

In 2004, a cultivar of the Gallica Group named 'Cardinal de Richelieu' was used as a starting point for genetic engineering to produce the first blue rose.


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