Damasks

top: Summer Damask, Celsiana, Professor Emile Perrot
above: Petite Lisette, Oeillet Parfait, Bella Donna

Perhaps the most mysterious of the old rose groups; attempts have been made to track down the probable parentage of the Damasks, but the suggestions seem implausible. The name refers to Damascus in the Middle East, whence it was once believed these roses came. We do know that they have been used for centuries in the production of attar or oil of roses; their fragrance is strong, and today is the scent most often associated with roses. For potpourri, few roses are more valued than the Damasks. Recent genetic studies have revealed three wild rose parents that led to the Damasks: Rosa gallica, Rosa moschata, and Rosa fedtschenkoana.

We currently have no curator for the Damasks. If you are interested in becoming one, please contact: curator@thefriendsofvintageroses.org.

Damasks Habit

Damasks are moderate to large growers reaching 5′ to 7′ in height, arching with tapering branches that bow down with the weight of their blooms. We group them into three styles.

  • (E.g., York & Lancaster) The tall broad-spreading canopies, heavy caned below and twiggy at their extremities.
  • (E.g., Leda) A shorter type with stouter canes and a more spreading, stiff habit, often with larger flowers of more petals.
  • (E.g., Gloire de Guilan) Even lower, more spreading plants rarely topping 4′.

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