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 moschata Mill.

Rosa moschata Mill. is the herbalist’s rose, described consistently from John Gerard (1597) to Redouté (1817-1824) as an autumn-flowering rose.  Nurserymen of the time listed it for its autumn-flowering characteristics.  Most notable for us is Thomas Rivers, who, in an article in The Gardeners’ Chronicle of 1843, included it in his autumnal garden.  It is a vigorous climber, reaching to 10m or more, with loose clusters of musk-scented, usually single, pure white flowers, displaying yellow stamens, from mid to late summer into autumn.  The flowers are followed by small, orange-red hips.  [Rivers (1854, 1857, 1863), Gore, Willmot, Paul (1848, 1888)].

Horticultural & Botanical History

The origin of Rosa moschata is uncertain.  Graham Thomas, in his book Climbing Roses Old and New, devotes an entire chapter to Rosa moschata, entitled The Mystery of the Musk Rose:  ‘Let me make it clear that we are concerned in this mystery with no less than three distinct roses - one for Shakespeare, one for the herbalists, and one for the botanic gardens.’  The musk rose of Shakespeare and John Keats is relatively simple (see notes on Rosa arvensis Willd. var. flore pleno), but ‘I doubt if we shall ever know just where and how the other two originated’.  Thomas provides strong evidence that the rose now commonly sold as Rosa moschata in England, and possibly Australia, is a hybrid or cultivar of Rosa brunonii.  He succeeded in tracing a specimen of the autumn-flowering ‘herbalists’ musk rose and found it identical to the descriptions given in the older books and, most importantly, to Redouté‘s painting.

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues and described as a musk cluster rose in the 1843 and 1845 catalogues [T.852/1843].


Published Feb 10, 2010 - 05:31 PM | Last updated Jul 30, 2010 - 05:44 PM

Family Rosaceae
Region of origin

Probably Europe

  • Autumn flowering musk rose
Common Name
Name in the Camden Park Record

Rosa moschata 

Confidence level high