Native California Roses

copyright Barbara Ertter, 2001
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Comparative Table of Thicket-Forming Roses in California

IMPORTANT NOTE: the distinctions between rose species are best understood as broad generalizations, with ample room for overlap, intergradation, and exceptions. They furthermore completely break down in north-central California, where representatives of the thicket-forming complex stubbornly resist efforts to shoe-horn populations into neat and tidy pigeonholes. See historical background and taxonomic decision-making for a general overview of the taxonomic challenges presented by roses.

A primary distinction between the four species of thicket-forming roses in California involves the prickles (technically not thorns, which would be anatomically different structures). Prickles are best observed on middle and upper parts of the stem (i.e., the parts typically represented on herbarium specimens); prickles at the base of the plant are often significantly denser, straighter, thicker, and/or otherwise morphologically dissimilar to those on middle and upper parts of the plant. They can furthermore differ on different stems of the same plant, for reasons not yet understood.

CALIFORNICA NUTKANA var. NUTKANA PISOCARPA WOODSII var. ULTRAMONTANA
PRICKLES strongly curved, thick-based (image) +/- straight, very thick, abundant (image) +/- straight, paired or nearly absent (image) straight or curved, gen slender, few to many (image)
PEDICELS hairy but not glandular glabrous or glandular gen glabrous, glandless gen glabrous, glandless
HIPS ovoid, glabrous to hairy (image) large, round or ovoid, glabrous or stalked-glandular (image) round, glabrous (image) ovoid, glabrous (image)
SEPALS glandular or not, tip = body, entire gen glandular, tip expanded, toothed gen glandular, tip > body, entire glandless, tip = body, entire
DISTRIBUTION south & central cismontane CA, sw Oregon, n Baja California (map) near coast in central CA, north to Alaska (map) northwest CA to Brit. Columbia (map) transmontane CA to Montana and Brit. Columbia (map)

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