Native California Roses

copyright Barbara Ertter, 2001
back to main rose page

Rosa californicaCham. & Schldl.
"California Rose"

Description Distribution Discussion Horticultural Notes Nomenclature Links

thicket-forming, to 3 m tall prickles broad-based, usually strongly curved leaves usually single-toothed, bluish-green hips most often ovoid, glabrous or hairy

DESCRIPTION: Shrub, often thicket-forming, generally 8--25 dm tall. Stem gray-brown; prickles generally few, thick-based, generally strongly curved though sometimes nearly straight. Leaf 5--14 cm long; stipule margins with sessile glands; leaflets generally 2--3 per side, hairy, sometimes glandular; terminal leaflet generally 15--60 mm long, elliptic, the base obtuse to rounded, the tip obtuse, leaf-margins mostly single-toothed, less often double-toothed, mostly not glandular. Inflorescence (1)2--20-flowered; pedicels generally 5--15(20) mm long, generally hairy, glandless. Flowers: body of hip in flower generally 3--4(5) mm wide, glabrous or sparsely hairy, neck of hip 2--4(5) mm wide; sepals glandless or glandular, entire, sepal-tip generally equalling sepal-body, entire; petals generally (10)15--20 mm long; pistils > 10 in number. Hip variable in shape, most often ovoid, glabrous or sparsely hairy, 8--15(20) mm wide, neck 3--5(6) mm wide, sepals persistent. n=14. Blooming May to October. Generally moist areas, especially streambanks; < 1600 m. elevation.

top of page

Most of California Floristic Province (except High Cascade Range, High Sierra Nevada); s Oregon, n Baja California

Additional distributional representations available from links at entry for this species in the Jepson Interchange for On-Line Floristics

top of page

DISCUSSION: The California rose is the common thicket-forming rose in southern and central cismontane California, including the Central Valley and the Channel Islands. It is the only native species of rose in California with (usually) strongly curved, thick-based prickles. Several escaped roses (e.g., R. canina, R. eglanteria) have similar prickles, but these non-native species can be distinguished by the presence of distinctive lateral lobes on the sepals, as well as in having generally more olive-colored branches (vs. the characteristically more gray or brown stems of all native species). The pedicels and hips of the California rose can be either glabrous or hairy (but never glandular); those of other native species are sometimes glandular, but never hairy.

Plants from deltaic California have more flowers than average, while plants from the northern Channel Islands (named R. sanctae-crucis by Rydberg) have straighter prickles and larger flowers and hips.

top of page

HORTICULTURAL NOTES: This is probably the most commonly cultivated native rose in cismontane California.

top of page

R. californica Cham. & Schldl., [only Schlecht. in IK] Linnaea 2: 35.1827: Chamisso & Schlechtendal--San Francisco (HT: LE)

Possible Synonyms (working list):
R. aldersonii Greene, Pittonia 5: 110. 1903: Alderson s.n.--Witch Cr, San Diego Co. (HT: NDG)
R. bidenticulata Rydb., N. Amer. Fl. 22: 518. 1918: Eastwood 1389--Castella, Shasta Co., CA, 24 Jul 1912 (HT: Arnold Arb)
R. brachycarpa Rydb., Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 44: 71. 1917: McClatchis s.n.--Temescal Canyon near Elsinore (HT: NY!)
R. breweri Greene, Leafl. Bot. Observ. Crit. 2: 262. 1912: Brewer 828--San Jose, Camp 48, 30 Aug (HT: US320924!) = californica or nutkana
R. californica var. chamissoniana C. Meyer, Mem. Acad. Imp. Sci. St. Petersb., 6th ser., 6: 18. 1847 [or Zimmtr. 18, 1847): Chamisso--San Francisco, CA [nom nov. for autonym]
R. californica var. glabra Crépin, Bull. Soc. Bot. Belg. 15: 52. 1876.
R. californica var. glandulosa Crépin, Bull. Soc. Bot. Belg. 15: 52. 1876.
R. californica var. orthacantha C. Presl, Epimel. Bot. 202. 1851:
R. californica var. petersiana C. Meyer, Mem. Acad. Imp. Sci. St. Petersb., 6th ser., 6: 18. 1847: Dr. Peters--CA, versus San Francisco (HT: LE) = hairy form
R. californica var. pubescens Crépin, Bull. Soc. Bot. Belg. 15: 52. 1876 = nom. nov. for autonym
R. davyi Rydb., Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 44: 76. 1917: Davy 263--Saratoga, Santa Clara Co. (HT: NY!) = californica or nutkana
R. delitescens Greene, Leafl. Bot. Observ. Crit. 2: 265, 1912: Greene s.n.--Siskiyou Mts in OR boundary, 3 Sep 1889 (HT: NDG11146!)
R. gratissima Greene, Fl. Franciscana 73. 1891: Greene s.n.--mts of Kern Co. (NY! see discussion in Intermountain Flora)
R. greenei Rydb., Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 44: 71. 1917: Greene s.n.--Santa Cruz Island (HT: US45935!)
R. johnstonii Rydb., N. Amer. Fl. 22: 521. 1918: Johnston 2050 [? NY sheet is 2054]--Upland, San Bernardino Valley (HT: NY! NY 335713; NY 335712)
R. myriantha Carr., Rev. Hort. 448. 1865: cult. spp. from CA = californica with straight prickles
R. pilifera Rydb., Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 44: 80. 1917: Bolander s.n.--San Francisco (HT: NY!)
R. san[c]tae-crucis Rydb., Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 44: 73. 1917 ["c" added in Rydb. 1918]: Greene s.n.--Santa Cruz Island, 1886 (HT: NDG) = californica with straight prickles

top of page


top of page
back to main rose page