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A rose by any other name

Published on December 20th 2018
The Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) sends out its fragile-looking white flowers in the darkest months. It is beautiful, robust and brave, but one thing it most definitely is not is a rose – it’s a buttercup and it’s not alone.
We’ve called many plants roses, but most are nothing of the sort. Here are a few other beautiful imposters:
  • Lenten rose – another buttercup.
  • Tuberose – a lily (or asparagus) – misnamed lilies deserve a whole article to themselves!
  • Desert rose – a dogbane.
  • Woodrose – a morning glory.
  • Marsh rose – a protea.
  • Rose of Venezuela/mountain rose – a legume.
  • Rock rose – the head of its own rock rose family, Cistaceae.
  • Rose of Sharon – a hibiscus; also Hypericum calycinum.
  • Sun rose – a purslane.
  • Guelder rose – a viburnum.
  • Primrose – the head of its own primrose family, Primulaceae (named for ‘first rose’).
  • Evening primrose – neither a rose nor a primrose, but a willowherb.
  • Rose of Jericho – the resurrection plant; a fascinating mustard with Lazurus-like powers.

Did I miss any out? Let me know in the Candide App tagging @PimlicoDan

I’m sure there are plenty more misnomers lurking about in the shrubbery, but few can compete with the scent and elegance of the nation’s favourite flower*.
* This is from a study commissioned in 2017 for the whole of Great Britain.