Plants in Focus #2

Hi there!

Since spring is upon us and that roses will be taking centre stage very soon, I thought I would put the spotlight on this quite interesting rose.  It has some very interesting attributes and if you don’t like prickles look away very soon.  Another reason I thought we would look at this beauty is because I see its starting to flower.

Rosa omeiensis pteracantha

Rosa omiensis pterecantha

A most interesting rose that hails from South western and central China in the provinces of Gansu, Guizhou, Hubei, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Xizang and Yunnan.  It grows in Abies forests, thickets, scrub, pasture, hillsides and slopes at altitudes between 700-4000m.  It is a shrub that can grow to 4m tall, in cultivation it normally gets to 2-3m tall.  Shrub is usually very spiny and this trait gives it a common name of ‘Winged thorn Rose’.  The thorns on new growth are quite spectacular in the sense they are bright red and somewhat translucent when the sun shines through them.  As they age they harden and turn brown.  They can be quite large as you will see in the photo’s below.


Notice above that not only does this rose have huge prickles it also has small spines.  Note also the leaves which can be 3-6cm long and also have 5-13 leaflets with a serrated margin.  This one has 9 leaflets.  These leaves give this rose a ferny appearance as well and they are deciduous, giving a nice yellow/red colour in Autumn.  See below more examples of the prickles and note their size!


Here’s one with my fingers so you can compare their size.


The Flowers are unusual as well because they only have 4 petals and this is the only rose known for this.  Flowers are white and are 2.5-3.5cm in diameter.  This rose flowers early in spring and I find its normally the first of my roses to come into flower and it can be fleeting.  The flowers are followed by small round hips which are red.


There are 4 different forms of this rose which are R. omeiensis f. omeiensis, R. omeiensis f. glandulosa, R. omeiensis f. paucijuga and of course R. omeiensis f. pteracantha which was discovered by Rehder and E.H.Wilson in 1915.  I tried to find out about the name of this rose with not much sucess but what I think I could deduce is that ‘pter’ or ‘ptera’ is something that is winged and in this case it definetily has large thorns that look a bit like wings.  Part of omeiensis could be where this rose is found at Mount Emei(omei) in the province of Sichuan.  Mt Emei sits at the western end of the Sichuan basin and stands at 3099m near the town of Emeishan City.  There have been roughly 200 plant species from various plant families described from Mt Emei.  The root bark from this rose is used for tanning, the bark contains about 16% tannin.  The hips are also sweet and edible and used medicinally and to ferment wine as well.

If you have the room, this is an outstanding rose to have as a focal/talking point in the garden.  In my experience with this rose it is best given plenty of room and doesn’t seem to like being crowded.  Best left unpruned and only get rid of deadwood as needed.  Make sure you use gloves if you are removing any deadwood or working near it or you will regret it.  A jumper helps as well!  Not really worth growing just for the flowers although they are unique, the standout feature of this rose is its Thorns.



and watch those fingers!


Plants in Focus #1

Hi There,

Welcome to what i hope will be an ongoing portrait, essay or information on plants that can be seen in my garden.  I have toiled arround with names for this series but have finally ended up with the above title.  I know it’s not very inspiring or arty but so be it and without any further procrastination, here we go!

Salvia forskahoeli


This Salvia is a great plant for nearly every situation that you might have.  Equally home in part shade and full sun,  it is a remarkably hardy plant from the Balkan peninsula.  Found from the coasts of Turkey to Greece and Bulgaria and growing in conifer and broadleaf forests up to 18oo metres in altitude.  Flower stalks arise from the basal rosette of foliage in late spring/early summer to a height of about 60-80cm with whorls of flowers spaced on the stems.  This species will flower for about 6 weeks and deadheading may prolong the season more.  Sometimes it will even flower into autumn Flowers are a violet/blue colour with white streaks on the lower lip.  These flowers readily produce seed and will self seed itself quite easily, seems not to become a nuisance though.

The leaves are thick and can be quite long maybe 20-30cm and are hairy on both sides.  There are lots of them and they are a nice green colour.  You Will end up with a large rosette of about 50-60cm wide and up to about 50cm tall.  This species will benefit from a loamy soil that drains well and it will even cope with dry shade conditions which are very tough conditions.  This plant is also drought and frost tolerant.


The above picture shows to good effect the foliage and flowering stems which most are showing seed developing in the brown calyx’s.  This Salvia was introduced in 1880 and is named after Peter Forsskal of Finland who was a plant and zoological collector in southwest Arabia(Yemen) in the 18th century.  In actual fact he contracted malaria in Yemen and died at the age of 31 in July 1763.  Below you will see a close up of the leaf with its distinct veins and you can just make out the fine hairs that cover both sides as well.  This gives it quite a furry feel when rubbed between your fingers.


Below you will see a close up of the flowers with their guide lines that stand out(also look at the first photo).  These are the white lines that lead directly to the nectar and pollen(also called beeline).  You may also notice that the flowers below are a slightly different colouring from the ones above.  This plant will occasionally give out different coloured offspring which can make it exciting.


Well that’s about it for this little segment, below is just one more photo for you to enjoy.  Happy gardening.


Salvia forskaholei