Friday, May 27, 2011

Moss Roses

"At some point in the evolution of the Centifolias, Nature decreed that some would have whiskers." Peter Beales, Classic Roses.

Henri Martin (Laffay, 1862)
The first moss rose originated most likely as a genetic mutation of a centifolia rose.

Common Moss (unknown, 17th century)
"Moss" refers to prickly growth on the canes and on the buds, sometimes soft, sometimes hard, and often  containing volatile oils that are released when the buds are touched, leaving a pleasant peppery fragrance on the fingertips.

Henri Martin (Laffay, 1862)
Most of the time, the mossy growth looks like lots of tiny prickles, but in some rare cases it can be very unusual, like the picture below, of Crested Moss, which is also known as Châpeau de Napoléon, or Napoleon's Hat because the growth on the sepals makes the bud look like a cockle hat.

Bud of Crested Moss (Kirche, 1827)
Hybridization of mosses began in the 19th century, and for a while cultivars were mainly selected for the unusual looking buds, with a disregard for the quality of blooms.

Duchesse d'Abrantes (Robert, 1851)
This resulted in a lot of pink moss roses looking one much like another :)

Marie de Blois (Robert, 1852)
This is not to say that pink mosses are not worth growing. In fact, pictures in this post are of the ones I like very much. Soupert et Notting (below) is one of my favorites, with its clear pink perfectly formed blooms on a well-behaved tidy bush.

Soupert et Notting (Pernet, 1874)
The rose below, appropriately named Glory of the Mosses, has probably the biggest blooms of any, with a wonderful mix of blush and pink, wonderfully fragrant.

Gloire des Mousseux (Laffay, 1852)
Mme Louis Lévêque (below) is a beautiful moss that also offers some repeat bloom. Because it repeats it is probably a cross with a hybrid perpetual, but whatever it is, its delicate blooms are exquisite and plentiful.

Mme Louise Lévêque (Lévêque 1898)
Waldtraut Nielsen is a little-known cultivar, but I find its huge blooms to be well formed and very fragrant. It is definitely worth a look, at least for a collector.

Waldtraut Nielsen (Nielsen, 1932)
Having shown all these pink mosses I have to say that my favorite are the purple ones hybridized by Jean Laffay.  The two below are some of the darkest colored of all roses, and wonderfully fragrant.

Capitaine John Ingram (Laffay, 1854)
Nuits de Young (Laffay, 1845)
Mosses have retained their popularity until the present time. There have been quite a few bred throughout the 20th century, such as Golden Moss or Robert Leopold. I would only like to mention Ralph Moore, the creator of miniature roses, who also bred a number of mosses, most of them reblooming...

Cee Dee Moss (Moore, 1990)
...and the family of Kordes of Germany, who created not only Parkjuwel, mentioned in my post on centifolias, but also Black Boy, an unusually colored and very beautiful rose, if somewhat awkwardly named.

Black Boy (Kordes, 1958)


  1. Oh my what a wonderful post in information and beautiful pictures.

    Thank you ~ FlowerLady

  2. Thanks for the post on moss roses. Very interesting creatures they certainly are. I love the pink parfait look of Gloire des Mousseau. Delicious!

  3. Bardzo ciekawy artykuł, róże mchowe mnie fascynują od dawna.
    Pąki są tak aksamitne i delikatne w dotyku a zapach niektórych odmian mchowych jest wyczuwalny nawet przy dotknięciu pędów.
    Właśnie czekam na pierwsze kwiaty róży Robert Leopold.
    Fantastyczne zdjęcia, jestem pod ogromnym wrażeniem.
    pozdrawiam serdecznie, AniaDS.

  4. Hi Masha,
    Your pictures of this moss roses are, so as always, very beautiful. I enjoyed this post very much. You know I love roses and...especially this colours are very nice.
    A nice weekend and lovely greetings, Elly

  5. Such gorgeous pictures. I am so in love with the button eyes. What is it about petals folded into the center that is so darn cute? And the fuzzy buds are so interesting.

  6. Very pretty. I love the dark ones, although Cee Dee Moore is beautiful, too. Too bad blogs don't have a 'scratch and sniff' feature!

  7. Thank you for a very educational trip down Moss Rose Lane. I agree, the purple ones are stunning. I try to garden organically, do Moss roses require a lot of chemical spraying, etc.

  8. I am just starting out with roses and will have to stop reading your blog because I want so many of the roses. The two purple varieties above would look great in my orange and purple garden with my 'Westerland'.

  9. They are really, really different. The buds are strangely interesting in form and texture.

  10. Masha, if I didn't live in Florida, I would certainly be growing a bunch of these beauties. Their mossiness is really cool. Thanks for another great post, Masha.

  11. Wonderful post about the moss roses, Masha. I love the darker colored ones that your photos show. In my own garden I only grow Salet, but it is doing surprisingly well in my hot climate. I love the fragrance that it leaves on my fingers, when I gently tough the moss. Do you grow any moss roses in your own garden?

  12. Śliczne, tylko czemu takie kolczaste. Lepiej mnie nie ruszaj "mówią" :-) Pozdrawiam

  13. Beautiful both in bud and flower. I've got to get one of those immediately. I've seen and admired Black Boy in a Swedish garden but I don't think I've seen Capitaine John Ingram before. Yum..

  14. Hello, Masha !
    Very interesting post. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!! Lovely blooms, lovely pics.

  15. hank you so much for these lovely comments! What a treat they were to read when we got back home from our trip to Central California.

    The Sage Butterfly, mosses are usually healthy, as are other once-blooming roses, but some varieties do get mildew and blackspot. You either need to do research, or try a few varieties and see what does well for you.

    Christina, I have Fuzzy Wuzzy Red, a Ralph Moore moss - it is very pretty and not too big. If I had more room, Capitaine John Ingram would definitely be in my garden.

  16. I enjoyed the glimpse of Moss Roses today! So much to learn and remember.

  17. For the photograph, moss roses are lot of fun.
    This year I planted Crested Moss (called "Chapeau de Napoleon" here) and Nuit de Young.
    Your photos of roses are always do neat and gorgeous.

  18. Love Moss Roses, thanks for sharing these. Such beautiful blooms!

  19. Jeannie, thank you, I am glad you liked them.

    Isabelle, thank you, and you made great choices! I can't wait to see pictures of these roses on your blog.

    Thank you, RR, I agree, they are beautiful!

  20. I have always loved the moss roses. My mom had one that was a single yellow and I loved it. I have to appreciate and repect the thorny little mosses. Where can I by them? I particularly want a CeeDee Moss. Thanks

  21. Anonymous, a great resource for rose lovers is a database at You can search for a particular rose, and then click on the "Buy from" tab. The only source I could find for Cee Dee Moss was Vintage Gardens. You can go on their website at and see if it is currently available. If not, you could contact them by email and ask if they plan to release it in future. Another idea would be to go to the Antique Roses Forum at and ask there if anyone has a cutting they are willing to share. Good luck!

  22. Hello Masha !
    I'm sorry, I speak in french because my english is too bad !
    Je me suis permise de "prendre" ta photo de 'Captain John Ingram' pour illustrer le rosier que j'avais acheté hier. De toutes celles présentes sur le web, c'est elle que je préfère. J'y ai joint le lien vers ton article.
    Voici le lien de mon blog :
    Si cela te pose un problème, n'hésite pas et dis-le moi, je l'enlèverai !
    Un tout grand merci !
    Have a great sunday, lovely greetings,

  23. Dear Masha, can i get ur email address?? i would like to ask about roses..thanks :)


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