World’s Largest Rose Bush Dates Back to 1885

You’ve probably seen some impressive-looking flowers, but unless you’ve been to the Tombstone Rose Tree Museum, you’ve never seen anything quite like the World’s Largest Rose Bush – a gnarled trunk about 12 feet in diameter, with its branches covering 9,000 square feet. It’s been around since 1885, and yes, it still blooms every Spring.

The White Lady Banksia Rose found its way to Tombstone, Arizona, from Scotland, over a century ago. In 1884, a young miner by the name of Henry Gee and his bride Mary left Scotland for the United States and settled in the legendary town. Mary felt homesick and after writing to her family about it, she received a box full of plants, bulbs and cuttings from the beautiful garden that she missed so much. As a token of friendship, Mary gifted one of the rose cuttings to a friend she had made in Tombstone, a woman called Amelia Adamson. The two of them planted it near the woodshed in the back patio of Amelia’s boarding house, and not only did the rose flourish in the Arizona desert, it grew into the largest rose bush in the world.

Photo: National Park Traveling

By the time James and Ethel Macia bought the old boarding house, in 1920, the white rose bush had already grown very large, so they tore down the woodshed and created a system of wooden poles and metal pipes for support, which only helped it expand even more. In 1933, John Hix was the first to call it the World’s Largest Rose Tree in his column “Strange As It Seems”, and in 1937, Rober Ripley, of Ripley’s Believe It or Not came to Tombstone to see it for himself. The rose kept growing as the years passed, and it eventually received the official title of “world’s largest rose bush” from Guinness Records, an entry that has never even been challenged.

Photo: Tombstone Chamber

The White Lady Banksia Rose blooms every year, for about six weeks, from March through April, and it even has its own Rose Festival, which thousands of visitors eager to see it in all its glory. In full bloom, the world’s largest rose is covered with thousands of small white tea roses, the smell of which can be smelled a block or two away.

Photo: Tombstone Rose Tree


Sources: Tombstone Rose Tree, NPR