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"Banshee" rose References
Article (magazine)  (1977)  Page(s) 3.  
..It would be cheering to report that here in Mrs. Gore [Rose Fancier's Manual, 1838] lie the answers, the names to the Banshee clan. Not so; still, one description does sound familiar. See if you agree with me:

No. 9 Baron Louis
-Shrub, very high, vigorous; branches thick but flexible; with bristles and thorns at the base, unarmed at the summit.
-Leaves, composed of seven or nine leaflets.
-Leaflets, oblong, oval, close together, smooth, pale underneath, thin, simply serrated. Flowerstalks glandulous.
-Flowers, double, middle-sized; rumpled, of a pale flesh pink or pink, seldom expanding favourably.
-Tube of calyx, smooth, top-shaped or fiddle-shaped, as if tightened in the center.

This is about as close as we shall ever come, I believe, to a contemporary word picture of the rose known as Banshee.
Article (magazine)  (1977)  Page(s) 2.  
Graham Thomas conveniently provides an excellent portrait of her rose in Shrub Roses of Today. In his case, stock came through Mrs. Fleischman, who imported it from Bobbink & Atkins. The blooms appear to be the least double of any, so they never have the bad manners to ball in English gardens. Note the long thready sepals and the wedge-based leaflets. But we cannot lay this misidentification at the door of B & A; in the lengthy list of species roses offered in 1925-26, there is no "Californica flore-pleno".
Lambertus Bobbink did distribute one Banshee, though. He called it Maiden's Blush and made much of its pronounced fragrance but was not satisfied with the name. "Maiden's Blush is probably a hybrid of Rosa alba and therefore rather difficult to classify. We are probably correct in calling it one of the old Damasks." He may have come closer, to the reality of Banshee than he realized.
Rose people are not alone in their attempts to pin a name on this rose that is many kinds yet none. A few years ago, a friend and I visited the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, where the herbarium is one of the finest in the country. We hoped to fix in our minds' eyes once and for all the type characters of Rosa carolina, R. palustris, and R. virginiana, but glanced through each folder the young botanist attendant brought us. Imagine our astonishment at finding in one of them four pressed specimens with unmistakable Banshee foliage, the bud clusters almost exactly like those on plants in our gardens. The folder was marked "Unidentified".
You may have gathered by this time that Banshee is more than one rose. You are right, it is several. But they are so alike that even now, with the six growing here, when the season has advanced to May 15 they are next to impossible to tell apart. Only with plant maturity do the distinctions become clear. I regard the Banshees as a strain. That is, they are hybrids with the same parents, and might all have come from the seeds in a single hip. Within the strain these variations can occur:
WOOD. Smooth or warty, without prickles, or, when a few prickles are present, they are red and in an infrastipular pattern; one version regularly has a cross of four stout prickles below each node. Predominantly yellow-green, sometimes aging to red-brown.
LEAFLETS. Seven, with nine on basal shoots. Pea to deep green, smooth, usually glossy, sometimes humped, turning to light orange and rust tones in autumn. Broadest at the outer half (obovate) sometimes with blunt rounded tip, sometimes pointed, but always wedge-shaped (cuneate)at the base.
RECEPTACLE (calyx-tube; it seems strange to call a structure usually broader than long a tube). Can have any shape from thimble to cup to hemisphere to bowl, often with a constriction, or waist, about the middle, giving a double-decked look, the same as Bunyard's acorn-cup. This is a condition that occurs primarily to the initial bud in a cluster and is due to the developing carpels within. (See illustration.) All shapes do not occur on the same plant; each has its limited range of extremes.
BUDS. Sepals to three times the length of the petal mass when still green, with wings (pinnules) long, thready, curling. Usually in clusters of three but can be single or as many as seven, in which case the four younger buds wither and drop off.
BLOOM. Semidouble to double, two to two and a half inches. Pink, from deep bright to very pale. The more petals, the greater likelihood the flowers cannot open. In this regard our most extreme form is large, almost white; I have never seen it expand. All flowers that do, share an intense Damask perfume equal to the airborne scent of `Castilian' (R. damascene bifera) and the species Rugosas. The buds as they unfurl are often lovely, and sometimes one Banshee will regularly show good form; mostly, the bloom is muddled.
There is nothing of Alba in these roses. Neither in their foliage, prickleage, bud construction, nor in fruit are they alike. Only flower color is shared-a splendid example of the common urge to identify roses by their color alone. If the Banshees have been given other names, until recently, most of us have been unaware of what the type old roses should look like. Banshee does not really "impersonate" other roses. It has a strong character all its own-being sui generis in this, as Bunyard would say...
...Percy Wright pointed to the likelihood that R. virginiana was elementally involved, and, observing the Banshees, this seems unarguable. Indeed, when I first saw a suckering rose in a North Carolina garden, I was certain I'd found the missing link, a five-petaled Banshee. It turned out to be a particularly fine example of Virginiana. If the strain is indeed a very old hybrid, and not some heretofore unexplored North American rose phenomenon, my candidate for the other parent is Rosa damascena. Both species have 28 chromosomes, so the cross is genetically plausible. The Damask Rose would explain the exaggerated perfume, the color, the light green foliage, and the tortured receptacle that tries to produce ovaries first on the floor of the receptacle, as proper Carolinae species do, then on the wall, where the European Gallicanae roses reproduce. No wonder the blooms ball! If some amateur hybridizer were willing to take on the experiment, the cross of Virginiana with the type Damask `Professeur Emile Perrot' might provide duplicates of Banshee.
Whatever the Banshees were, they were too primitive, too close to wild roses to have been included in the catalogue-books of Rivers, Buist, or Prince. The only other non-picture book that includes all 19th century roses whether garden worthy or not is Mrs. Gore's Rose Fancier's Manual of 1838. She listed every species no matter how obscure, as well as its slightest variants. Turning to Rosa lucida, I see she calls it the "Radiant Rose". Is this because the leaves are glossy, or because the flowers are unusually bright? No mention is made of foliage sheen, yet some of the flower colors are called "brilliant"; there is a single sub-variety, the "New Radiant Rose (of Vibert)".
More rewarding is the species that precedes, Rosa rapa, the "Turnip Rose", which has all of eleven sub-varieties. The Turnip Roses were North American and noted for their broad shallow receptacles that were considered "turbinate", that is, shaped like a top or the lower half of a turnip. The eleven descriptions so intergrade, with a few more Radiants thrown in, that I have come to call the batch of them "Radiant Roses". They are lost to modern botany for the type is not even referred to in the latest edition of Gray, but here is proof they existed in the 1830s.

Book  (1966)  Page(s) 32.  
On a 1947 trip to Europe, Dr. Skinner spent two days in Stockholm.
"The rose we know in Manitoba as Banshee was growing in several places in Sweden where it was labelled R. amoena grandiflora; probably it was brought to Canada by some settler from Sweden."
Website/Catalog  (1949)  
"BANSHEE - the nearest hardy rose in this class, and already well distributed in prairie Canada. Very vigorous grower and very free in bud production. Very beautiful when it opens, but so double that the petals stick and only about 25 per cent of the buds succeed in opening. Not recommended."

Percy Wright Catalogue - Hardy and Semi-Hardy Roses p. 9
Book  (Jan 1946)  Page(s) 32.  
Banshee - A rose of unknown origin, having very fragrant double pink flowers in profusion.
Book  (1940)  Page(s) 84-86.  
[From "Hybridizing the Hardy Rose", by Percy H. Wright]

One of the commonest rose varieties grown in western Canada is the Banshee. It came into the country so long ago that its origin is forgotten, and inquiry only elicits the opinion that it reached Manitoba via the Dakotas, and from the Red River settlements was carried into Saskatchewan and Alberta. It may be an old rose, and yet the foliage seems distinct from that of Gallica, and Centifolia. The flower is a very double pink of poor texture, not unattractive, but much troubled by balling. Hence, I suppose, the variety name. If anyone reading this Annual has information regarding the rose Banshee, western Canada would be glad to have it passed on. It is sufficiently hardy for general planting in our provinces, and Mr. F. L. Skinner, of Dropmore. Manitoba, our authority on hardy roses, places it next to the Rugosa variety, Hansa, in hardiness.
This year a bud sport gave a new form, a semi-double rose of much deeper pink and free of balling, and with the loss of petals, fertility was recovered. As soon as I found this plant I attempted to use it in crossing, and placed upon its petals pollen of a wild rose that happened to be in bloom at the same time. This was an unidentified species sent to me two years ago by Mr. W. S. Blair, then Superintendent of the Dominion Experimental Station at Kentville, Nova Scotia. Every pollination gave seed, and the idea was suggested to me that perhaps Banshee itself is a hybrid of this or of some related North American native.
After pollinating the flowers of the sport of Banshee, I went on to work the flowers of Banshee itself. Most of these pollinations, as expected, remained unproductive, but one, to my amazement, yielded an enormous hip, almost as big as a crabapple, and so full of huge seeds that they were fairly protruding from the top. These seeds, 81 in all, were quite the largest rose seeds I have ever seen. The pollinator was this same wild rose of Kentville. Never before had I heard of Banshee yielding seed, though one such case has since come to my attention. The reverse cross, the Kentville rose pollinated by Banshee, also gave a plentiful response in seeds.

Book  (1940)  Page(s) 15.  
Banshee (Origin and class unknown.) Very double, of poor texture, pink, troubled by balling. (One of the commonest varieties grown in western Canada; sufficiently hardy for general planting.)
Book  (1936)  Page(s) 146.  
Banshee 2 1/2 in., double, palest pink, deepening to centre. Numerous stamens mixed with petals, styles 1/8 in., separate. Very penetrating scent, like Lucida. Pedicel and calyx covered long glands, faint red. Hip acorn cup shaped. Calyx more than twice the length of the bud, densely glanded, wings over 1/2 in. long, narrow, often dividing. Leaves strong green, large for the size of flower, smooth, thornless, petiole channelled like a Tea. Stipules long, broad, serrate, edges waved. Branchlets smooth. This was sent to me from Canada under this name as the hardiest Rose grown there, I have not so far been able to identify it. It is remarkable for the penetrating Eau de Cologne scent, and will delight all lovers of scented Roses, being sui generis in this.
Book  (1936)  Page(s) 50.  
Banshee (hybrid rugosa) in America 1928; ?
Magazine  (1934)  Page(s) 135.  
The Banshee rose, of unknown origin, but evidently related to the Perpetuals. This would be a valuable variety were its flowers not inclined to “ball.” Where it got its comparative hardiness is a mystery.
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