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Archduc Joseph and Mons Tillier : A rose by Any Name Looks just as Good and Smells as Sweet.

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Will this article be the definitive one on the identity of these two roses? Probably not but I am prompted to writing it because recently, images I have posted as Archduc Joseph on my ‘Ann Chapman – Roses’ facebook, page have caused discussion on the true identity - whether it is in fact Mons Tillier.

My Archduc JosephArchduc Joseph

I have always believed our beautiful tea rose to be the Archduc. We brought it as such many years ago when first establishing Trinity Farm. We have sold it as such including plants to noted plants woman Mary Robertson of Pukehou Nursery who at the time said she had the true Mons Tillier and mine was not that!

A Look at the Literature

So I have had a look at the literature and trawled through endless photos to see if I can spot the difference. But the problem with photos when the subject is very similar is the  time of day or season, the shade of light on the blooms or rain on it petals, or even the quality of the soil, what hemisphere it is in, can all have an impact on the eventual colour. Does it look more crimson planted along side Mutabilis or more russet alongside something else? Would DNA testing show the roses to be the same or an entirely different rose? Or even as one source suggest a clone? But even then which is the clone and which is the true.

Nancy Steen

Nancy Steen, of whom I have great regard for her knowledge, is silent on the subject and so I move onto my next favourite resource Graham Stuart Thomas. He also is silent on their identities. Help google and blind readers

Peter Beales

Next then is Peter Beales who is credited (see below) with introducing the true Mons Tillier to NZ and says of the Archduc – ‘1872 Nabonnand. Seedling of Mme Lombard. One of the outstanding Tea roses. Flowers, opening flat, and made up of many petals, the whole a pleasing mixture of pink, purple and russet with tints of gold and yellow at the centre. The stems have few thorns. Hardy and can be used as a shrub or small climber.’ The accompanying photo is typical of my rose.

Of Mons Tillier Beales says – ‘ Bernaix 1891 – A good but little know rose better endowed than most Teas with foliage. Rather loosely double flowers, blood red with violet smudges, freely produced on a vigorous bush. Tall and lax. Parentage unknown.’ The photo is of a rose which is much more loose and without the number of petals usually associated with the Archduc.

Bill Grant

Bill Grant in his Botannica says that both have been incorrectly named and inter-changed with each other. The two are close but his descriptions telling : The buds of Archduc Joseph are dark pink, opening lighter and then turning copper with strong pink overtones. Thin canes with glossy foliage are sometimes not strong enough to hold the quartered blooms upright. Colours vary depending on the weather and location; the petals become purple-orange in humid climates but rose and pink in dry, hot weather. The canes are brownish red with dark ashy green leaves.’ Mons Tillier on the other hand has ‘deep rose to purple flowers with orange and russet shades, and they open flattish. This is a vigorous shrub of medium height but it can grow to enormous heights if planted in a shrubbery.’

Help google and blind readers

Sinclair and Thodey

Sinclair and Thodey in their book, 'Gardening With Old Roses' say Archduc Joseph is known in NZ as Mons Tillier. They further say  in their book - Gardening with Old Roses (1993) – ‘The true Mons Tillier was only recently introduced to New Zealand by Peter Beales through Tasman Bay Roses: until then the bush rose Archduc Joseph had been wrongly sold in NZ as Mons Tillier.’

Tasman Bay

In their catalogue Tasman Bay Roses says of Mons Tillier : ‘English form, from Peter Beales, red, loosely double flowers. 1891’ and the Archduc is ‘double flowers in a mixture of pink, mauve and orange with paler centres. 1872’
This English variant from Beales is only mentioned by Beales himself, Sinclair and Thodey and Tasman Bay nurseries.


Trevor Griffiths

Trevor Griffiths (from whom we possibly bought our plant many decades ago) describes the two. Of Archduc Joseph he says :1872 – ‘a member of that numerous group of beautiful old teas with pinkish red colouring. A strong grower, with shades of orange-pink and deep magenta’. He says of Mons Tillier – ‘quite large, very double flowers. Reddish buds open to almost carnation-like blooms of deep pinkish salmon that then pale to pinkish shades’.


Rosa, Rosae l’encylopaedia des Roses’

A trawl through the internet brought me these two delightful gems published in the ‘Rosa, Rosae l’encylopaedia des Roses’ in 2000 under each rose headings which Google kindly translated for me. I have not attempted to reinterpret any further – and feel it adds to the picture.
‘Monsieur Tillier rose is one of those rare varieties of tea, carmine red color, tinged brick red from the sometimes subtle purple after full épanoissement, an effect completely understand. This all-new color from roses, other stands so that the view is immediately struck. The shrub is vigoruex, buissonant, quite rustic and well especially floriferous. Vons we had last summer on young subjects of the year, as well as rods grafted ground earth a continual flowering. The flowers are large, solid, and nested in the manner of camellias. Monsieur Tillier was seedlings obtained by Mr. Alexander Bernaix, rose grower, chemin de la bottle Villeurbanne (Rhône), and put trade on 1 November 1891 ...
Archduke Joseph : Tea. Pink in bud, it clears the hatch, then goes to a copper tone shaded with light pink flowers ... large neighborhoods ... thin twigs red-brown foliage glossy green ash. Their complexion nectarine varies depending on the location and the vagaries of the weather: in wet periods, it turns purple and coral, dry and hot pink fishing dominates. This rose is the subject of much controversy and has long been distributed instead of 'Monsieur Tillier' and vice versa. Nabonnand, France, 1892.’
The fact that both roses in these translations are associated within the same timeframe – 1891 and 1892 – suggests they may likely be the same. I also note that the date of introduction for Archduc Joseph is interchangeable between 1872 and 1892 in different sources.

Email Advice

An email from a friend made this comment: The two Roses looks rather similar in growth, foliage and flower shape, but 'Archiduc Joseph' is a very big plant, vertical at first, then growing in a more open, large shrub. The most significant difference between them is in the flower's colour. 'Monsieur Tillier' has flowers a little less double, in shades from light pink to red magenta, with just a hint of salmon in the centre; 'Archiduc Joseph's flowers are fully double, cupped with reversed outer petals, and quartered centres; sometimes (in intense summer heat) they open reflexing in a star-shaped way, looking like a Cactus Dahlia. Colour is complex and varys from cerise "bengale" red at the edges, to salmon pink with peachy and coppery overtones, sometimes coppery orange, in the centre. In fully open flowers, contrast between margins and centre can be stunning! One of the very best Teas in every way.’

ConclusionHelp google and blind readers

Who am I to argue and does it matter now I am not selling this rose anymore? Not a bit. I still love it for its abundance of flowers, its health, its generosity of habit and its beautiful flowers. Whatever its true identity it is a plant to be treasured. I think on the evidence above Lloyd and I grow Archduc Joseph and so he shall remain.