This is the first of my 'Midnight Blue' X ('Orangeade' X R. fedtschenkoana) hybrids to flower. The pollen parent is a Kim Rupert hybrid given to me for study and breeding.
R. fedtschenkoana (HMF listing linked here) is a species native to parts of Asia and NW China. It is a prickly, upright species to 7 feet tall (give or take) with Linseed oil scented white blooms. About ten years ago, a lab did DNA sequencing of several of the early Damask cultivars and it was found, much to everyone's surprise, that R. fedtschenkoana played a role in the development of the Damask class. Roses such as R. damascena bifera are believed to be derived from (R. moschata X R. gallica) X R. fedtschenkoana. (Hikaru Iwata, Tsuneo Kato, and Susumu Ohno, 'Triparental Origin of Damask Roses', Gene, Vol. 259: Nos. 1-2 ( 2000 )
The seedlings in the 54-08 group will be assessed for fertility, remontancy and disease resistance in the next few years. This first seedling has inherited the unusual Linseed Oil/herbal fragrance of its species grandparent, which I find intriguing. It has also inherited some degree of striping on the petals, which is curious, since there are no striped roses in its pedigree that I am aware of.
Hybrids like this may provide a completely new way of looking at the early development of the Damask class and new opportunities might be found when combining these species hybrids with more modern and more diverse parents. There are shockingly few species used in the development of modern garden roses (some estimate as few as seven or eight species are largely responsible for the creation of most of the roses we now grow!) and I feel that if anything truly new is to be created, integrating other species is essential now. I am particularly interested in the native North American roses like R. foliolosa and R. arkansana, to name but two.
Read more about some of Kim Rupert's other R. fedtschenkoana hybrids here.