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Narcea—an unknown, ancient cultivated rose variety from northern Spain

  • Martínez, María-Carmen1
  • Santiago, José-Luis1
  • Boso, Susana1
  • Gago, Pilar1
  • Álvarez-Acero, Inmaculada2
  • De Vega, María-Estela2
  • Martínez-Bartolomé, Miguel2
  • Álvarez-Nogal, Rafael3
  • Molíst, Pilar4
  • Caser, Matteo5
  • Scariot, Valentina5
  • Gómez-García, Daniel6
  • 1 Misión Biológica de Galicia (CSIC), Carballeira 8, Salcedo, Pontevedra, 36143, Spain , Salcedo (Spain)
  • 2 Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología de Alimentos y Nutrición (CSIC) (Spain), C/José Antonio Novais 10, Madrid, 28040, Spain , Madrid (Spain)
  • 3 Universidad de León, Campus de Vegazana s/n, León, 24071, Spain , León (Spain)
  • 4 Grupo Neurolamb, Biología funcional y Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad de Vigo (Spain), As Lagoas-Marcosende, 36310, Spain , As Lagoas-Marcosende (Spain)
  • 5 University of Torino, Largo Paolo Braccini 2, Grugliasco, Turin, 10095, Italy , Grugliasco (Italy)
  • 6 Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología (CSIC), Dpto. Conservación de Ecosistemas Naturales, Avda. Montaña S/N, Zaragoza, Zaragoza, 50016, Spain , Zaragoza (Spain)
Published Article
Horticulture Research
Nature Publishing Group UK
Publication Date
Apr 01, 2020
DOI: 10.1038/s41438-020-0266-8
Springer Nature


The present work reports the discovery and the complete characterisation of an ancient cultivated rose variety found growing in a private garden in the southwest of the Principality of Asturias (northern Spain). The variety is here given the name Narcea. The majority of roses currently cultivated belong to the so-called group of ‘Modern Roses’, all of which were obtained after 1867 via artificial crosses and improvement programmes. All are destined for ornamental use. Until the 19th century, the great majority of the many ancient cultivated roses in Europe were used in perfumery and cosmetics, or had medicinal uses. Rosa damascena and Rosa centifollia are still grown and used by the French and Bulgarian perfume industries. The Asturian Massif of the Cantabrian Mountain Range provides a natural habitat for some 75% of the wild members of the genus Rosa, but until now there was no evidence that this area was home to ancient cultivated roses. A complete botanical description is here provided for a discovered ancient rose. It is also characterised according to a series of sequence tagged microsatellite sites, and its agronomic features are reported. In addition, a histological description (optical and scanning electronic microscope studies) of the petals is offered, along with an analysis of the volatile compounds present in these organs as determined by solid phase microextraction and gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy. The results reveal the uniqueness of this ancient type of rose and suggest it may be of interest to the perfume industry.

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