field rose



field rose defined in 1912 year

field rose - FIELD ROSE (Rosa arvensis);
field rose - If the dog rose is the glory of the hedgeside in early summer days the Field Rose worthily carries on the tradition into still further summer-tide - late June and July are its months. It is a pity that, to the casual passer-by, the hedgeside roses are so often all one. Yet the most moderate of those who have studied them will not admit fewer than five distinct kinds - the dog, field, sweet brier, downy, and burnet or Scotch rose - while students with more analytical minds will treble or quadruple this number, for these plants often cross among themselves and vary considerably from type, so that exact definition is difficult.

There is, however, really no excuse for confusing the Dog Rose (R. canina) and the subject of our charming illustration, the Field Rose (R. arvensis); their characters are quite distinct, the first is of a robust and glowing type, the second of a more fragile and clinging nature. The Field Rose has pure white blossoms untouched by the blush that characterises the dog rose; its stems rarely or never show the strong, upstanding shoots armed with great, cruel teeth that the dog rose does; they are far slighter and more dependent upon the hedge-side for support, often trailing many feet upon or through it, and their teeth are but small and far fewer and much less aggressive. The prickles in both roses are hooked, and thus when a young shoot has pushed through the hedge and its prickles have developed it can never slide back again - the little hooks would offer resistance at every point.

The upper surface of the stems is often warmed by the sun into hues of dull purple.

The leaves are rather few and scattered upon the stems. They are each cut into five leaflets of a pretty green above but a paler, deader hue below, and the stem carrying the leaflets, really the equivalent of the midrib in, say, an oak or an apple leaf, is purplish, and fenced below by a pair of little wings. The edges of the leaves are daintily cut into a simple saw-like pattern.

The flowers are grouped together in twos and threes, and when we come to look closely into these lovely white blossoms - more cup-like than those of the dog rose - we are at once united in fellowship with certain rose-lovers of centuries past who studied the wild roses from behind convent walls, and who sometimes embodied their discoveries in quaint Latin verse, one couplet of which, referring to the sepals, has been handed down to us to-day:

Quinque sumus frates, unus barbatus et alter
Imberbesque duo, sum semiberbis ego,


which, anglicised with generous freedom for the benefit of those whose Latin is rusty, is:

Five brothers take their stand,
Born to the same command;
Two darkly bearded frown,
Two without beards are known,
And one sustains with equal pride
His sad appendage on one side.

Turn the flower over and catch the allusions; the little diagram, too, at the head of the chapter makes it plain. The five brothers are the five sepals all in a ring "of equal standing"; two have curious appendages - the "beards" - on both of their edges; two have no such appendages, their edges being quite simple; and one has an appendage on one side only. These peculiarities, though pointed out long ago by the monks, seem to have been left as unexplained facts. Lord Avebury to-day carries the matter a stage farther, pointing out that these are referable to the arrangement of the sepals in the flower bud, where in the general folding they overlap one another to some extent. Two have both edges exposed, two have both edges covered, and one has one side covered and one side exposed, and the great scientist points out that it is the exposed edges that carry " beards"; the unexposed edges are without them. This does not, however, explain why the exposed edges should have them, or what purpose they serve. Another suggestion, thrown out by Mr. Owen and Prof. Boulger, is that this is a "curious illustration of progressively diminishing resemblance of floral leaves to foliage leaves," for in their eyes "two of the five sepals are pinnately lobed " (after the fashion of the leaves), "two are undivided, and one has lobes on one side only."

The five delicate petals are all alike; on their under-surfaces are many glands of a highly volatile essence, and from them is exhaled a faint but delicate fragrance of the myrrh type. (It may not be generally known that there are no fewer than seventeen different kinds of scents among the roses.) Their petals' snowy whiteness throws up in strong contrast the crown of the many dark-coloured stamens.

There is no honey, but the flowery pollen dust is sufficient to give a good feed to many an insect, and to the bees pollen "bee-bread" is just as necessary to life as honey is. In the centre of the stamens is a green column, and this column is one of the chief idiosyncrasies of this rose. In all other roses the seed-bearing parts of the flower are quite distinct one from the other. Each has one seed at its base, and a column with receptive tip rising from it; the lower part is sunk in a cup at the stalk end, and the columns rise above its margin and show as a group in the centre of the stamens. But here all the columns unite and rise up as a single pillar in the centre of the flower. The receptive top is ready at the same moment that the stamens begin to shed their pollen, and it would seem as if the plant encouraged self-fertilisation; in fact, it appears inevitable. But inasmuch as this column is the very point on which insects alight, it follows that they almost certainly put on it pollen from outside sources before their movements can brush any of its own pollen on to it. Hence, cross-fertilisation is the rule and not the exception.

Then the fruits form. Gradually the stalk-end grows and imprisons the seeds. It tinges with yellows, oranges, and reds in succession, and ultimately is a crimson globe (not a drawn-out oval, as the hip of the Dog Rose is). Often the mummified remains of the column project from its tip and single it out in the autumn days as unmistakably the hip of the Field Rose. The scarlet coat is rather like the thick rind of an orange, and not much more pulpy. It covers closely a hard, white globe which is cut up like a jig-saw puzzle into many segments, and these, though they vary in size, are after the pattern of the "quarters" of an orange. A little care will peel off the scarlet coat and leave the hard globe intact. As November draws near the hips are in their gayest and most conspicuous days. The birds, attracted by their brilliant colour, come and attack them as they grow on the branches. They peck away at the vivid rind, but it is not that that they seek; they desire, curiously enough, the hard seeds which together build up the globe, and they sit swinging on an adjacent branch and carefully pick out the pieces of the jig-saw globe. The proof that they do not care so much for the rind - the only pulpy part of the fruit - lies in the fact that often one can find it left like a ragged cup upon the branches, emptied of all its contents. The birds have torn away the upper part, greedily swallowed all the seeds and contemptuously left, as of no account, the lower part of the rind. The seeds pass through their bodies - no doubt their slight hairiness facilitates the process - and they find earth again in the droppings of the bird. The Roses always carefully refrain from allowing their ripe fruits to fall to the earth, for their aim is to keep them specially for the birds and to protect them from field-mice and other small animals, who are most effectually kept at bay by the long prickly stems, which their tender feet cannot tread.

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