Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mutant 'Mundi'

Rosa gallica 'Versicolour', a gallica rose that dates to before 1581, has the common name 'Rosa Mundi', or 'Fair Rosamund', named for a certain eccentric English king's mistress.  It originated as a striped and splashed sport of 'Rosa gallica officinalis' known as the Apothocary's Rose, dating to before 1310 and long used medically by naturopaths.  Apothocary is a brilliant magenta pink, and both it and 'Mundi' are beyond fragrant, super tough and on their own roots, will form an inpenetrable hedge that gives great protection to small birds and other critters.

A sport is a spontaneous mutation by unknown causes.  It is not the same as the raggedly red rose that came up when your hybrid rose died off; that is 'Dr. Huey', long used as rootstock for grafted modern roses due to the inability to kill the darn thing.  Makes dandy rootstock for delicate hybrid roses and once those prima donnas croak, 'Dr. Huey' heaves a great sigh of relief and starts spreading like a madman.  Sometimes, he doesn't even wait for the grafted rose to die.  I have seen several quite spectacular specimens of both 'Dr. Huey' and the hybrid grafted onto him growing around here.

One thing that a sport can do is revert back to the parent.  A most famous selection of sports are all the 'Peace' rose sports.  There are quite a few, many better than the parent, and one of them is a fave of mine, 'Chicago Peace'.  The one I grew back in Poway reverted one branch back to the original 'Peace'.  'Mundi' is perhaps the second most famous sport known to revert back to its parent, 'Officinalis'.  Mine waited almost 5 years to revert, but this year, it did.  The only difference was, not only did it revert back to 'Officinalis', but it also threw a new sport of its own!  That's not an uncommon occurance, but it's pretty cool when it happens

'Officinalis', parent on the left (solid pink), 'Mundi' on the right (striped)

The new sport, a much smaller, lighter striped flower

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