Saturday, May 21, 2011

Basye's Thornless Wichurana

Quite a few years ago, I purchased a rose from Sequoia Nursery they called "Basye's Thornless Wichurana". It grew..and GREW....AND GREW! As with any Wichurana, it roots at every leaf node, creating a new plant each time until it colonizes all available space. Due to lack of room, I removed it and quickly wished I hadn't. I intend to eventually begin working with it to determine if the thornless character can be bred into its hybrids.

Winter of 2004, while visiting Sequoia, I asked Ralph Moore if he still had the plant and might he please have one available for sale? He didn't but told me he'd make some. The following summer, May 29, I was in Visalia to attend the dedication of his memorial garden. People lined up to shake the great Rose Man's hand. Many of us wore name tags with our names, the names of our roses he'd created and named for us, as we slowly moved toward the honorees seat.

As I approached him, he caught sight of me out the corner of his eye and reached for my hand. Jerking medown to his face to be heard, he asked, "You know that thornless Wichurana you asked me for last winter? I got two little plants for you if you remind me when we go back to the nursery". Easily six months since my inquiry, with the dedication of his memorial garden with its associated hullabaloo, and this 97 year old gentleman is focused on my inquiry of six months ago! That's the source of my two plants of Basye's Thornless Wichurana.

It still grows and grows. These plants have been starved in depleted soil, crammed into five gallon nursery cans, yet they STILL grow! One has thrown itself through the other roses in the pot ghetto, into a huge Manetii root stock which got away, and cascades down the sunny side of the mound. Laterals spring from its smooth canes, each terminating in clusters of single, white flowers.

The foliage is attractive, and I noticed today it has the trait of "tanning" to red in heat and sun, particularly on the reverses of the foliage.

The canes ARE thornless. The leaf mid ribs do have small, hooked prickles. The plant roots EXTREMELY easily and GROWS quite well. It should easily make a very successful ground cover for a slope, rooting as it creeps along the ground. Not having the flesh eating prickles on the canes should help make it quite a bit easier to deal with when having to pull weeds or trash from the plant. When it flowers, it is quite beautiful.

Catching the fragile flowers while they are still fresh and without damage is quite a trick. Unfortunately, I can't detect much scent from them.  What I did notice today during an overcast, warmish morning is a slight "soapy" scent.

Strangely, the stipules are slightly fringed like the bracts in the flower clusters, a trait indicative of multiflora heritage. No other Wichurana or its hybrids not containing multiflora I've encountered possess the fringing.

Cuttings of this easily rooted, healthy rose are available to anyone interested within the Continental US for the cost of postage.