Rosa glauca (or is it rubrifolia?)

glauca distance

(Photos courtesy of Mike George)

An earlier version of this post was first published June 4, 2018

As May turns to June the roses in Elizabeth Park are brimming with potential energy, their flower buds practically vibrating as bloom time nears. It’s also a time when the early bloomers have little competition for park visitors’ attention. This week we highlight one such early early bloomer. There’s some confusion over this rose’s name: The Combined Rose List mentions both a Rosa glauca (Dobson & Schneider, 2017, p. 216) and a Rosa rubrifolia (p. 218) as does the comprehensive online plant database (along with common names “Hecht-Rose” and “Red Leaf Rose”).

Whatever it’s called, glauca is a unique rose at Elizabeth Park, located along a fence line in the southeast part of the main garden. This year it came into full bloom at the beginning of the last week of May, with understated mauve-pink blossoms evenly dotting its tree-like canopy. While other roses may produce more fragrant or abundant blooms, few can match glauca’s year-round features. Its ashy blue-green—or glaucous—leaves give the shrub its name and turn golden in autumn. Clusters of red hips linger into the winter. Its plum-colored branches grow strong and woody, almost like an apple tree. The Elizabeth Park specimen long ago surpassed the fence line with a crown rising to an impressive 8+ feet (even after light pruning in the winter).

glauca closer

Like last week’s rose, Father Hugo, glauca is a species rose, meaning the variety is unchanged from its original form in the wild. Glauca is native to Europe and thrives in mountainous regions (Phillips and Rix, 1993, p. 61) and in climates as frigid as Zone 2 ( As the park’s hybrid teas struggle to recapture growth lost over winter, glauca’s elegant branches power on, upward and outward.



Dobson, B.R. & Schneider, P. (2017). Combined Rose List 2017. Mantua, OH: The International Rose Directory.

Phillips, R., & Rix, M. (1993). The Quest for the Rose. New York, NY: Random House.

Glauca Rose Description. HelpMeFind. Retrieved from


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