Garden Detective: Mystery rose

Published: Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 9CALIFORNIA LIFE

I have a mystery rose bush. I've been told that it is an Austrian Copper rose, but I've been unable to find any information regarding this plant. The flowers look more red than copper.

The nearest description I can find has to do with grandiflora and hybrid tea type roses, but I'm not sure where this rose fits. How is this rose classified? Can you give me any additional material about this bush?

– Ed Laine, South Lake Tahoe

Austrian Copper (Rosa foetida "Bicolor") is a single rose with one row of petals per flower and has brilliant coppery red-orange blooms with the petals backed by yellow.

Judging by the photos you supplied, UC Master Gardener Eleanor Dong concluded that what you have blooming in your garden may have been the grafting stock used for your Austrian Copper bush. The graft (with its copper flowers) died but the roots sent up growth. Those red rootstock roses are usually called Ragged Robin.

According to heritage rose expert Anita Clevenger, Ragged Robin was used as rootstock for roses before the 1920s. Since then, Dr. Huey is the rootstock most commonly used by American rose growers.

Dr. Huey blossoms have two rows of dark red petals and open to bright yellow stamens. Another clue: Dr. Huey blooms only once in spring.

Ragged Robin, originally introduced in 1852 as Gloire des Rosomanes, has bigger blooms than Dr. Huey and also flowers more than once, with waves of blooms from spring through summer. The large carmine-red flowers have nine to 16 petals.

As for Austrian Copper, it's classified as a "species" rose. It's considered a separate wild species from today's modern hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas and other classes.

Austrian Copper dates back to 1590 when it was discovered in the wild. It's a vigorous climber and often tops 7 feet. Besides the bicolored copper blooms, it also can bear all-yellow flowers. Hybridizers used Austrian Copper to produce rose varieties with more brilliant colors.


Questions are answered by master gardeners at the UC Cooperative Extension services in Sacramento and Placer counties.

Send questions to Garden Detective, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. Send email to h& Please put "Garden Detective" in the subject field and include your postal address. To contact your UC Extension directly, call:

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