Multiflora Rose

Multiflora Rose - Rosa multiflora

General Description
Multiflora rose is a thorny, perennial shrub with compound leaves and arching stems. Dense thickets of this plant form, crowding out native shrubs and herbaceous plants. Like Japanese barberry, multiflora rose tolerates a wide range of habitats such as fields, forests, prairies, stream banks, and wetlands.

Clusters of white to pinkish flowers appear during May. Bright red rose hips develop during the summer and remain through winter. Leaves are compound and are divided in five to eleven sharply toothed leaflets. Look for a small feathery structure (stipules) at the base of each leaf stalk. Thorns are arched downward along the stem.

Multiflora rose was introduced to the East Coast of the United States from Japan in 1866 as an ornamental shrub. Later, the plant was promoted as a "living fence" to contain livestock.

How It Spreads
Fruits are highly sought after by birds, which aid in spreading this plant. A plant may produce a million seeds per year, which remain viable for 20 years. Multiflora rose also reproduces via the tips of arching canes that root when contacting the ground.

Control Methods
From mid-April through October, young plants can be pulled by hand, while larger plants should be cut. Cut surfaces should then be painted with glyphosate herbicide. From June through October, this species can also be controlled by spraying foliage with glyphosate, but multiple applications may be necessary especially in partly shaded locations.

Note that rose rosette disease, a virus carried by a tiny mite, is spreading to multiflora rose populations in Ohio. Symptoms include red stunted leaves which form "witch's brooks" on the infested plants. The disease kills infested plants within one to four years.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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