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How to distinguish between wild roses?

Posted: Thu Nov 26, 2020 7:54 am
by julie777
We were walking on the South Downs in Southern England, and I noticed a lot of ripe hips on wild roses growing in the chalky soil.

I have no idea if they were dog rose, sweetbriar, field rose or downy rose, or any of the sub categories of these.

The rose bushes and their hips looked dwarfed, smaller and more delicate than many wild rose bushes, and only maybe two feet or so high and wide. I did read on the information boards that this chalk downland environment creates far more species growing together than usual because the chalk downland has such poor soil that none are vigorous enough to outcompete each other.

There weren't any sheep in that particular area, but there were a lot of grazing sheep higher up on the downs. I suppose it is the grazing sheep that give the downs that neatly mown lawn look? Not sure if sheep would eat rose bushes though, these were very thorny.

I wondered if the dwarfed rose bushes and hips were also due to this poor soil on chalk downland, or if there was also an epigenetic element here, whereby the genes had become modified in response to the environment to make smaller rose bushes? And I have no idea what kind of wild rose they are. I have seen similarly dwarfed rose bushes growing on very acid soil where roses are hard to grow.

I also wondered if this is a partly similar effect to bonsai growing? Do the seeds of bonsai trees come up small, and if so how many generations keep the dwarfed quality, and would vegetative propagation via cuttings keep the dwarfed quality indefinitely, barring the odd sport?

I thought if this dwarfing is something epigenetic, then they would make lovely small shrubs in a garden.

Re: How to distinguish between wild roses?

Posted: Thu Nov 26, 2020 8:37 am
by jbergeson
There really is only one way to find out if their dwarf stature is genetic or environmental...I hope you collected a few of the hips. :)

Re: How to distinguish between wild roses?

Posted: Thu Nov 26, 2020 9:37 am
by julie777
Yes I collected two hips, and planted their seeds. I didn't want to take too many as they are the birds' winter food, and they look really pretty in winter. Though plenty of hawthorn grow in that area too.