Rosa banksiae [R.Br.] is a kind of climbing rose, native to the mountains of western China, where it has been grown in gardens for hundreds of years. It was named “Lady Banks’ Rose” in honour of Lady Dorothea Banks, Sir Joseph Banks’ wife. Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820) was a British botanist who studied the flora of Australia and New Zealand on James Cook’s first expedition. In contrast to other roses, it hardly has any thorns, its flowers are particularly small and its subtle fragrance is akin to that of violets.
There are two main varieties, the Rosa banksiae var. normalis, of simple flowers with five petals, which is the most similar to the wild form of the species and the ornamental banksiae variety with semi-double or double flowers. The most popular variety is doubtless the yellow one, Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ (Yellow Lady Banks’ Rose). In the Alhambra and Generalife gardens this species is widely used on pergolas and as a climbing plant. In the second fortnight of April and the first week of May this rose bush winds itself around one of the oldest cypress trees in the Partal Gardens.