A rose by any other name…

Sweet Briar. Bridge. May. Distinguishable from the Dog Rose by its sweet apple fragrance.

Sweet Briar. Bridge. May.
Distinguishable from the Dog Rose by its sweet apple fragrance.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” is what Juliet famously cries in Shakespeare’s play.

Currently flowering in hedgerows all around Bridge are beautiful little wild roses. For those who don’t know, these are not the same shape as the big, many petalled Hybrid Ts or Floribundas that we all have in our gardens. The wild roses are much smaller and have a simple flower like the one pictured above. This shape became the basis of the stylised Tudor Rose used in the heraldic imagery of the Middle Ages. The leaves of wild roses are similar in shape to garden varieties but much smaller, like miniature or patio roses.

Hybriding over the years has meant that it can be difficult to tell the difference between these various wild roses, but if you see a pure white one, with prominent yellow stamens in the middle, it will probably be a Field Rose, also known as a Trailing Rose today, or a Musk-Rose in Shakespeare’s day.

A similar flower tinged with bright pink is very probably a Dog Rose. More rare, but identical in flower and leaf, is a Sweet Briar: the only way that one can really tell the difference between these two, is to go and have a sniff. The Sweet Briar, also called Eglantine in Shakespeare’s time, will carry the delicious fragrance of fresh apples on its leaves. The scent is apparently most noticable after rain.

Sorry Juliet… but it seems a rose by another name may actually smell sweeter.

 

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