Roses that have claws! Perle, Glamis, Stanwell.

What are your thorniest roses (in reality or imagination)?

As Ingrid noted, Perle d'Or is nowhere near as thorny as Glamis Castle which certainly is a well-armed little bugger. In terms of ACTUAL thorns, Glamis is by far the more vicious of the two. However, in terms of PERCEIVED thorns, Perle is tops on my list.

Glamis is so petite and located in such a benign spot in the garden that I just gear up with long sleeves and thick gloves and snip away at his modest but but spiky canes and branches. Perle on the other hand, grows right smack next to the sidewalk so that I have to shove her back, stake her, and whack off massive quantities of growth every month. She's huge! HUGE! Her sprays reach 8 feet and she's almost 4 feet wide. (Yes, I DO prune her down in late winter.)

Perle wields pitbull-tenacious, bloodletting fanged thorns, like the ones closing around your throat in your most terrifying bogey man nightmares, the snaggleteeth of closet lurkers and under-the-bed creepies. And her thorns aren't just at the base of the plant. Oh, no! They run the course of canes and stems right up to the intersection of the flower sprays. If she doesn't snag you at first swipe, she'll nail you on the second.

Perle is the only rose (in recent years) that has reduced me to public cursing. I have rather long hair, and I usually clip it atop my head to garden. Perle frequently pulls all kinds of stunts that count as bad sportsmanship. Any kid in the schoolyard knows that you can't grab a handful of someone's tresses and pin her down while you rake your fingernails across tender exposed skin. No, sir. Foul play! But Perle? She's like the dirty boxer in Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby. It's a life-threatening experience working with Perle. At any moment one could lose an eye...or a limb.

So, with that rant out of the way. I'd like to add that Perle is also one of my favorite roses. She blooms continuously--delicate blossoms in shades of sweetest apricot and peach--and her plus-sized form is graceful and full of healthy canes and mellow green foliage. (How ironic is that combo of dainty and ferocious?)

If I were to name my thorniest rose hands down and no contest, it would, of course, be Stanwell Perpetual. (Photo attached.) But Stanwell, like Glamis, is tucked into a convenient spot in the back garden, and when I approach him, I have the expectation of armed combat. No concealed weapons. We have laid our ground rules.

So, I'm curious. What are your (real or perceived) thorniest roses?


This post was edited by PortlandMysteryRose on Sat, Jun 29, 13 at 16:59

Comments (28)

  • ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9

    Carol, after seeing your frightening picture of Stanwell Perpetual, I want to hasten to say that I have NO thorny roses. I actually grew this rose a long time ago but left that garden before it grew up and I even realized it was armed to the teeth.

    Having said that (and no longer owning the much-hated Glamis Castle) I would have to say my worst rose is Le Vesuve. I'm probably prejudiced because I slipped and fell into it with full force before proceeding down the hillside at a rapid pace. This rose has thin branches that grow closely together and weave into each other to the point that there is no way you're not going to get hurt, made much worse by the fact that I refuse to wear gloves. The thorns are not huge, but very sharp and hooked and close together, and so far in our tussles the rose has been the winner each time. I know Sherry has one that she prunes to size and I'm not sure how she fares with it. She probably has the brains to wear gloves.


  • labi_OHz6

    Climbing The Fairy. Such CUTE little baby pink flowers. Such horrible stab-you-and-dig-in thorns. I appreciated its fence-covering vigor (tried to ignore the mildew), but I was never a real fan of the bloom color and the thorns were so absolutely vicious that I finally dug the whole huge monster out.

  • buford

    Glamis is annoying. I have two in pots and I cut them way back each time they bloom. I do wear gloves, so the thorns don't bother me. I have a climber, Greenmantle that has vicious thorns. They are just like cat claws. Queen Elizabeth Climber is also pretty vicious.

  • strawchicago

    Radio Time is vicious here, even the deer doesn't eat that. I used to hate thorny roses, now I like them, since deer don't eat them.

  • monarda_gw

    You are lucky, our deer are like goats - they eat everything. The thorniest rose I have ever encountered was Nova Zembla -- like a particularly vicious lethal razor wire on 12 foot canes. Radio Times is also very thorny, I'll grant you, but pales in comparison.

    Sombreuil, New Dawn, and Colette, are also on the vicious side. They don't tell you these things in the catalog descriptions. Heidi, a miniature moss, is very thorny, but cute. It used to be for sale at the Union Square farmers' market in NYC and I regret not having bought one, back in the day.

    A thorny, newish modern rose is Harlow Carr. Very pretty, though, and compact.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Nova Zembla at Help-me-find-roses

  • mendocino_rose

    I was out dealing with Rosa Corimbifera the other day. It's one of those ones with the downfacing hooked thorns. It just kept catching on me.

  • strawchicago

    I love this thread, Carol's writing is music to my ears. Thank you, Monarda, for those names, which I will avoid in the future. I sprinkled fresh mint on my thornless roses in the front, no deer damage whatsoever.

    To keep deer out, putting posts and strings look tacky in the front ... so I'll going to put a border of Lavender, then sprinkle fresh mint once a while on the roses ... it beats basting them with rotten eggs.

    Lilian Austin has nasty prickles all the way up to the bloom. Bridal Pink floribunda has long needle-like projections. Those are least-liked roses in my garden.

  • michaelg

    Gertrude Jekyll has the sharpest awl-shaped thorns I've ever encountered. It's like each one has been honed by a sadist.

    The Fawn (ironically named) has huge, hooked talons, but they aren't particularly sharp.

    The champion blood-letter is The Fairy, partly because she looks so innocent. "OK, so I'm not wearing gloves, but surely I can get away with just reaching in and nipping that dead cane out!" The Fairy reminds me of the child vampire Claudia in Interview with a Vampire.

  • portlandmysteryrose

    Rosa Corimbifera, Nova Zembla, Colette, Radio Times, Lillian Austin, Bridal Pink, and The Fairy. I'll keep those in mind when razor wire is called for but best camouflaged by pretty, fragrant blossoms. I've grown Sombreuil and New Dawn. Both should come with warning labels. All sources wax on about the soft, delicate flowers but most neglect to mention that a suit of armor is essential gear when training these charming, old-fashioned (rapacious, blood-thirsty) climbers. My New Dawn required regular maintenance since she was entwined with an iron fence bordering a sidewalk. Why do I repeatedly plant thorny things where they're public nuisances if not closely monitored? Like Perle, New Dawn reduced me to fits of public profanity. The scars on my forearms have only just begun to fade. I grew a shrub of The Fairy but never attempted the climbing version. (Cute little pink flowers can be so wickedly deceptive.)

    Strawberry, perhaps I should have titled this post: Really Thorny Roses that Only Masochistic and Suicidal Deer Would Sample. Mint--that IS interesting. Spearmint? Peppermint? Ooo, rotten eggs. That delicious (not) odor might prevent you and your family from approaching the roses, too. My mother used banana peels to repel aphids. I tried some, and they did the job!

    Ingrid, I've had my fair share of tumbles with my roses, too. Why don't we ever fall on top of ones like Zepherine Drouhin or Veilchenblau? I don't grow Le Vesuve, but I'm familiar with similar China rose thorns. That class of roses is quite spiky. Old Blush is a real flesh wounder. I'm so relieved you survived your hillside tumble (relatively) unscathed. How steep is your landscape? I've grown roses on pitched lots in PDX and have decided there's entrepreneurial room in the marketplace for a gardener's supply company that offers harnesses, ropes, and anchors for serious, hard core rose lovers working on precipitous inclines.


  • altorama Ray

    Unique Panache

    Darlow's Enigma


    Harison's Yellow


  • portlandmysteryrose


    Ah, yes. Gertrude. I was assaulted by her at my last garden. I adopted Comte de Chambord and passed along Gertrude to a friend. Since I value our relationship, I wrapped up some rose gloves as part of the package.

    The Fawn. Isn't that a cute name? It's cute like The Fairy's Tinkerbell label and pink button flowers. Rose breeders do it on purpose, don't they? Pulling that fluffy stuff over our eyes so we adopt these pretty little beasts. Vampire Claudia--that's a good one!


  • portlandmysteryrose

    Altorama, ouch!! I see that Unique Panache has two kinds of thorns--the betta to getcha coming and going. Darlow is one of those roses with long hooked talons. Madame Alfred doesn't have many thorns and is touted as "nearly thornless," but the ones she displays are all in the Darlow category. She inflicts a few unexpected wounds every year. Harrison's Yellow TRULY rivals Stanwell. We may have to call for a forum vote on those two. Why do we grow these monsters? Are their flowers THAT good?


  • altorama Ray

    Yes, the flowers are that good, and the foliage. (Except for Unique Panache)
    Harison's foliage is so ferny and I love the color. I did get entangled in MAC today, but I forgive her because she has that peppery scented foliage.

  • michaelg

    One hybrid tea whose stems are packed with awl-shaped thorns is 'Electron.'

  • Campanula UK Z8

    I thought, after wrestling with r.bracteata, that I was immune to thorns until growing the vicious swine called Madame Louis Leveque. I guess I was lulled by the fact it is a MOSS rose (soft green pillowy cushions of growth?) and emphatically not multi-stabbing nightmare weapons of mass bloodletting. This rose is going, at the first opportunity, I will be passing it on to some other unsuspecting fool. I don't much like the flowers either.

  • melissa_thefarm

    'Jaune Desprez'. This is another one that looks soft and yielding and innocent and then stabs you. Mine is also up to the second story balcony of the building it's growing on and requires a solid annual pruning, so I have abundant opportunity to get wounded. The Teas in general are pretty ferocious too. I don't mind so much roses in the 'Unique Panache' mould, as they give you fair warning so that I wouldn't dream of approaching one without leather gloves. 'Centifolia Variegata' is similarly armed.
    Suzy, I was surprised when I read that you had 'Mme. Louis Leveque': it seemed the polar opposite of the kind of rose you like. I rather enjoy mine, its stoutly upright, plump and corseted appearance, like an Edwardian beauty, and it's been suckering out for a few years now, to my pleasure. I should add that I got this rose as 'Gloire des Mousseux', but I think it's the Madame. Clematis 'Blue Angel' grows on a tripod alongside, and I feel happy every time I see them together.

  • catspa_NoCA_Z9_Sunset14

    I have grown New Dawn, Glamis Castle, Cl. Sombreuil, Jaune Desprez, and Darlow's Enigma and can indeed verify they are among the meanest of the mean. In fact, I have, at this very moment, one in a long series of puncture wounds in the scalp inflicted by Jaune Desprez. In my personal garden, however, nothing beats Alba Odorata for number and hugeness of prickles (photo below). Each prickle is at least 1/2' tall and every cane is fully armed this way.

    The nominee for prickliest rose I've ever seen, however, goes to another hybrid bracteata, a plant of which is at the SJHRG. I still remember the day I came upon 'Fakir's Delight' there and was stunned speechless and motionless at the amount of armor it carries (link below).

    Here is a link that might be useful: Fakir's Delight

  • TNY78

    I agree with a lot of other posters suggestions: Glamis Castle, The Fairy, Stanwell, Gertrude Jekyl...

    A couple more that come to mind: White Cockade, Tamora, Hebe's Lip, and Sweet Briar,. But the worst of mine have to be the hybrid Persicas Euphrates and Persian Light!


    This post was edited by TNY78 on Sun, Jun 30, 13 at 17:58

  • dublinbay z6 (KS)

    I backed into Gertrude once upon a time. That isn't the only reason why I got rid of her, but it didn't make me like her any better, you can believe it!

    Of my currently owned roses, I have a short hedge between my neighbor's and my front lots made out of sharp-thorned Home Run. No one violates that border marking!

    In the back yard, I have a narrow strip planted with Elina, Peter Mayle, and a hybrid perpetual (the name of which I've forgotten for the moment)--repeated in a long row. Once they were securely settled in and not planning on going anywhere, I discovered that Elina and Peter Mayle sport mean, nasty thorns. Pruning Elina, especially, is a dangerous sport!

    But then there is my mild-mannered Mortimer Sackler who grows very few prickles--which the meter-reader appreciates when he has to kind of angle around behind Morty in order to get a good meter reading.


  • Campanula UK Z8

    Sigh, I know, Melissa, but I was trying to be a bit less opinionated and intolerant and a bit more......inclusive, hence the moss rose. I am going right back to bloody-minded belligerence and ignoring those blowsy, fluffy, blobby, multi-petalled nasties, drooping horribly and and unpleasantly reminiscent of an aged cabbage, found at the back of the fridge - the jabbing spikes are merely an inconvenience compared to the shrivelled lumpen horror of the bloom and graceless brittle canes.....So, a return to normality with Meg Merrilies next in line for propagation - of course, it is a sweet BRIAR and I know what to expect in advance(back to kevlar).

  • melissa_thefarm

    Suzy, possibly you didn't pick the right gateway rose: I like MLL, but it is an over the top much hybridized overstuffed kind of variety. The Gallicas? They have a very right look to them that you might appreciate, and I enjoy their foliage, wood, and habit. Or 'Centifolia', which though the plant is thorny and has rather graceless growth, is a pure pink, shapely, very fragrant, and an easy tough plant. This latter is a common survivor locally.

  • Campanula UK Z8

    Ha, Gallicas - well I tried one of them too. The first couple of years were a bit ghastly, with dire proliferation and flopping about but finally, finally, Duc de Guiche looks rather good since it has stopped with the over-producing centres and flopped in the right direction, into a rampant bush of Californica plena. Close up, it is a bit of a muddled mess but from a few feet away, it is a rather lush spectacle of magenta lushness. The deep red penstemons and psilostemon geraniums are all converging and, while it sound s bit eye-squinty, it is actually rather jolly in the east anglian greyness.

  • michaelg

    I use welder's gauntlets from HD or Lowe's. They are moderately priced and thornproof, but not available in small sizes.

  • portlandmysteryrose

    Michael, I'll add Electron to the deer-proof list. Some hybrid teas with huge, gorgeous, flowers are complete sociopaths. Thank you for the welder's gloves tip. I could really use some. Perhaps I could slip another pair of gloves underneath if the welder's are too large. Stanwell has the advantage at the moment.

    Campanula, you've reinforced my decision to avoid Madame LL. I, too, was once tempted by a generous description but saved by good fortune. Sometimes it serves one well to hit the ceiling of a gardening budget. You DO write books, don't you? No one could top your final description of Madame! Sweet briars: it does make a difference, doesn't it, when one walks into the relationship with the expectation of arming to the teeth?

    Catspa--Alba Odorata and Fakir's Delight. 1/2 inch thorns. I pulled out a ruler and looked at the 1/2 inch mark. Eeeouwww, AO! "Fakir's Delight" must be one of those sinister tongue-to-the-cheek expressions like "iron maiden."

    Kate, don't you love it when no one informs you that the roses you are selecting are genetic mutants resulting from some kind of Island of Dr. Moreau cross with a Tyrannosaurus rex? One never discovers the fact until the roses have rooted to the other side of the globe and wedged themselves between the foundation and a stand of precious and expensive perennials in an exceptionally narrow bed smack against your front door.


  • strawchicago

    Frederic Mistral is supposedly "low-thorn" but it poked me many times ... its thorns point straight out. Both Evelyn and Pat Austin never poke me since their thorns point downward. Crown Princess Magareta poked me plenty. Mary Magdalene has annoying prickles all the way to the bloom, very hard to pick for the vase, despite its awesome myrrh scent.

    Biggest thorns I saw were on Chicago Peace at the rose park, quite scary.

  • rosefolly

    The deer here eat the thorniest of roses with great enthusiasm. Fences and dogs are required from anyone who intends to grow roses in my corner of the world.

    Underground protection from the gophers is required as well.

    The roses that slice me the worst when I prune them are Perle d'Or and Chevy Chase. I always come back from an encounter bleeding and wounded, even when wearing gloves. It is best to wear full gauntlets and a heavy denim shirt. A hat, too. Getting your hair snagged in a thorny bush with no one home to help you escape is not a good thing.


  • Debbie1776

    I have a Mermaid on my front fence, out at the road. ... ALL the literature I've found on her, whether in books, on line or in sales catalogues, warn about her vicious thorns. She's still a baby, just planted her this spring, and she's already scaring the neighbors. Which, surprisingly enough, is why I put a Mermaid on my front fence! lol

  • rosefolly

    I planted a Mermaid once. After reading all the warnings I lost my nerve and removed it to the back hill outside the fence, thinking it was adequately armed against the deer. Not so. Nothing is adequately armed against the deer.


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