Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Rosa alba L. var. semiplena

Alba rose.  Rosa alba semiplena is a vigorous, bushy rose with flat, semi-double, scented white flowers, to 8cm across, in summer.  To 2.2m.  [Thomas].

Horticultural & Botanical History

This rose may be synonymous with Catherine Gore’s ‘Centifolia Nivea’, synonyms ‘White Unique Hundred-leaved’, ‘Centifolia Mutabilis’, and ‘Centifolia Unica’, with full, middle-sized white flowers.  Don also lists R. alba nova plena and R. alba nova coelestis in his Section VI, Centifoliae of the General System of Gardening and Botany.  No descriptions are given.  According to Thomas, Rosa alba semi-plena is probably identical to Rosa alba suaveolens or nivea, one of the roses grown for distilling attar at Kazanlick.  In spelling 'nivea' is close to 'nova', although its meaning refers to 'snow' rather than 'new'.  (It could be an error or incorrect transliteration, but this is very speculative as Macarthur consistently calls it alba nova in correspondence.) 

‘The White Rose.  Rosa alba.  This tree grows taller than most other kinds of roses having fewer prickles on ye branches; and those pretty large; the leaves are a dark green, and the flowers white.  It grows in gardens, and flowers in June.  The flowers are esteemed drying, binding and cooling.  The water distilled from them is much used in Collyriums for sore inflam’d eyes.  The official preparation is the distilled water.’  [Blackwell pl.73/1737].

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1845, 1850 and 1857 catalogues [T.861/1845].  In a letter to John Bailey of Adelaide in 1845 Macarthur describes it as ‘received only 12 months since from England.’ 


Published Feb 10, 2010 - 09:19 PM | Last updated Jul 30, 2011 - 04:09 PM

The photograph shows a semi-double, pure white rose with buds.

Rosa alba semiplena | Heritage Rose Garden Parramatta Park | photograph Colin Mills


Family Rosaceae
Region of origin

Probably garden origin, western Asia

Common Name
Name in the Camden Park Record

Rosa alba nova 

Confidence level medium