The Origin of the Yellow Rose:
You’ll Go Bananas


We have fossil evidence that leads us to believe that roses flourished at least 32 million years ago; Europe, America, the Middle East and the Orient. Here we are in 2010 and this year’s Floribunda-of-the-year is Monkey Business… a feisty yellow rose that delights us from the unexpected licorice scent to the huge clusters of high-centered blooms.


Most roses in the Northern Hemisphere were pink and Europeans indulged in ttheir various whites and pinks; even their reds were crimson-like. Then in the 18th Century, yellow wild roses were discovered growing in the Middle East. Wild varieties form Afghanistan and Southwest Asia blossomed in colors from pale yellow to deep sulphur. Causing quite a sensation, they were planted and first attempts at hydridization with yellow roses took place.


There are three yellow rose species which formed the foundation for modern yellow rose hybrids: Rosa Ecae, Rosa Foetida and Rosa Hemisphaerica. Rosa Ecae is native to Afghanistan; it is small very thorny and reddish brown wood with ferny leaves. The blossoms resemble buttercups and it is not a hardy rose preferring warmer climates.


Rosa Foetida is a huge rose sometimes reaching 8 feet in height. Its stems are chestnut brown and its thorns are black. True yellow in color, its blooms are a good size with yellow stamens.


Rosa Hemisphaerica, also known as the ‘sulphur’ rose, is native to Southwest Asia. Not only are their blossoms pure yellow they are double blossoms. The bushes grow to approximately 6 ft tall and their foliage is gray-green. But sadly, the scent of this rose is sulphur. Moreover, with the advent of the yellow genes these roses had a weakness for blackspot, and not nearly as vigorous as their pink and white cousins.


Centuries later, we now can recapture the innocent glory of long summer days with our Monkey Business Floribunda – a candy-like fragrance, bright primary color that will bring a smile to the face of any rose grower.


We’ve come a long way since their first discovery. Yellow roses are more vigorous with densely packed doubles today, in many glorious shades of lemon creams to deep golds. Blackspot and undesirable sulphur scents have been bred out of the original species roses and replaced with light-anise fragrance. No other rose deliver as much color as floribundas.


Esther B. Smith, author

All three yelow species that for the hybrids are simply stunning. They resemble buttercups who love warmer climates.