Butterfly Rose

butterfly rose (Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis') photo by John Shortland

butterfly rose (Rosa chinensis ‘Mutabilis’) photo by John Shortland

Multicolored roses and tree problems are the subjects of this month’s letters.
Q: “A few weeks ago you mentioned a rose bush that had multiple colors. Could you please tell me the name of it and where I can purchase it? I live in the West San Fernando Valley.”
– Dan
A: The rose you are referring to is Rosa mutabilis, a China rose commonly known as the butterfly rose or “Tipo Ideale.” Its flowers appear in orange, magenta and pink. It is fairly common in the nursery trade. You should be able to special order it from one or more of the following nurseries in your area: West Valley Nursery, (818) 342-2623; Treeland, (818) 883-1222; Green Arrow, (818) 782-8110; or Sperling (818) 591-9111.
There are a significant number of multicolored roses. Two miniature roses in this category that come to mind are “Hot Tamale,” whose colors are remarkably similar to those of Rosa mutabilis, and “Rainbow’s End,” whose flowers open yellow and turn orange or red. For the uninitiated, miniature roses generally grow no more than 1 1/2 to 2 feet tall. “Judy Garland” is a floribunda rose that grows to a height of about 3 feet and whose blooms are combinations of yellow, orange and scarlet. All of these multicolored roses are notable for their prolific blooming habits and disease resistance. It makes sense to consider these and other long-blooming, pest-free roses as alternatives to more predictable ornamentals such as the currently blooming India hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis species), whose flowering is confined to the cooler months.
Q: “We have an apricot and a mulberry tree that are both more than 30 years old. The apricot, although still a good fruit producer, appears to have something like a termite. Some of its branches are rotten although no sign of active infestation is present. The mulberry branches have also suffered damage, apparently from borers. At ground level, the mulberry tree has formed what looks like scar tissue on its trunk. We also have a 4-year-old bougainvillea that has some kind of boring beetle that makes a hole, goes about another three inches, and makes another hole. Can you give us some information about these conditions?”
– George Fodrea, Reseda
A: Termites frequently target fruit trees such as apricot, peach, nectarine and plum. None of these trees is long-lived and you should be content with 20 or 25 productive years from any of them. After such time has elapsed, these trees typically go into decline and become susceptible to bacterial canker disease and termites.
Curiously, one half of a tree can be practically dead as the result of termite damage while the other half continues to bear fruit. Your inability to see the termites at work does not mean they have absconded from the tree. They typically come out of their living quarters on sunny days following the first autumn rain, so be on the lookout for them at that time of year. Scar tissue on the trunk of any tree at ground level is nearly always the result of weedeater (power string trimmer) damage. The rapidly whirling plastic string of this infernal machine is used to trim away grass that grows up against tree trunks. Every year, thousands of trees in Los Angeles are lethally affected by plastic weedeater string cutting into their cambium, a thin layer of cells from which all water- and mineral-conducting plant tissues originate.
The fact that your mulberry has borers is a secondary problem that results from your tree being in a weakened condition, whatever the cause of that weakened condition might be.
As for your bougainvillea, I would enlist the help of our readers in deciphering its problem. The only pests I have noticed on Valley bougainvilleas are mites.

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