Q: About ten years ago I planted what I thought was a Cherokee rose from an old grave yard. I have had a very had time controlling this running rose. It will almost double its size every year and the thorns are large. How do I tell the difference in a Macartney rose and a Cherokee rose? I hate to kill it if it is a true Cherokee rose.
A: Macartney rose, Rosa bracteata, is also known as Chickasaw Rose and is often confused with Cherokee rose, Rosa laevigata. Macartney rose was introduced to England in 1793 on the return of Lord Macartney from China.
As you know, roses have compound leaves: the green blades we commonly call leaves are really leaflets. Several leaflets along a central short stem make up a true leaf. A Macartney rose has leaves made up of 7 – 9 leaflets. Cherokee rose leaves have 3 – 5 leaflets.
To add confusion to the situation, ‘The McCartney Rose’, named for the musician Paul McCartney, was introduced in 1995. It is similar to a number of other pink roses but is outstandingly fragrant.