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The Yellow Rose of Texas isn't from Texas

Updated on January 18, 2017
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Caren White is a Master Gardener and longtime volunteer at Rutgers Gardens. She also teaches workshops at Home Gardeners School.

Harison's Yellow
Harison's Yellow | Source

Everyone knows that the song, The Yellow Rose of Texas, refers to a woman but not everyone knows that there is a rose called The Yellow Rose of Texas. And it's not even from Texas!

What is the Yellow Rose of Texas?

Harison's Yellow is a hybrid offshoot of Rosa foetid, a yellow rose native to the Caucasus mountains whose flowers have only six petals. Harison's Yellow is a double version. It first appeared in the garden of George F. Harison, an attorney in New York City in 1824. William Prince, who had a nursery on Long Island, took cuttings and began to sell it in 1830.

A shrub rose with canes five to six feet tall, Harison's Yellow is extremely hardy, growing almost anywhere. It blooms once a year in the spring.

How did it spread across the country?

As people spread across the continent, they brought a few reminders of home with them. They had to be small because there was not space in the Conestoga wagons. Pioneer women often collected seeds from their favorite flowers and cut canes from their rosebushes .Kept moist during the journey, the canes would have developed roots and been ready to plant when the women reached their new homes.

Harison's Yellow can be found all over the West. They say that you can trace the Oregon Trail by following the bright yellow flowers of Harison's Yellow. In Oregon, at the end of the trail, it is known as the Logtown Rose because it is found in so many abandoned logging towns.

No matter where you live, you can grow a colorful reminder of our pioneer heritage.

© 2013 Caren White


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      GaryS1876 2 years ago

      As the iconic Yellow Rose is found wherever settlers found good soil and put down (their) roots, I doubt that logging towns were very inviting for farmers. -- My understanding is that the so-called Logtown Rose was a local Harisons Yellow growing in Jackson Co., Oregon, for which a local poet/logger wrote a poem extolling its charm. It was later planted near the gates of the Logtown Cemetery near Ruch, Jackson Co., Oregon.

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      Caren White 2 years ago from Franklin Park, NJ

      Gary, not all settlers were farmers. Some were merchants who were very interested in settling in frontier towns. Their wives, sisters and mothers would all have brought reminders of home including their beloved roses. Thank you for reading and commenting.

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