multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora)
Rosa cathayensis (Rehder & Wilson) L.H. Bailey
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Confirmed.
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted name for multiflora rose is Rosa
multiflora Thunb. ex Murr.
NATIVE STATUS: Introduced, United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Multiflora rose is a
perennial shrub that forms dense, impenetrable "clumps" of vegetation.
Isolated plants can produce clumps up to 33 feet (10 m) in diameter.
Bushes grow to a height of 6 to 10 feet (1.8-3 m) and occasionally 15 feet
(4.6 m). Stems (canes) are few to many, originating from the base, much
branched, and erect and arching to more or less trailing or sprawling. Canes
grow to 13 feet (4 m) long and are armed with stout recurved prickles.
Leaves are alternate, pinnately compound, and 3 to 4 inches (8-11 cm)
long with 5 to 11 (usually 7 or 9), 1 to 1.6 inch (2.5-4 cm) long leaflets.
Flowers are 0.5 to 0.75 inches (1.3-1.9 cm) across and number 25 to 100
or more in long or pointed panicles. Fruits (hips) are globular to ovoid,
0.25 inches (0.64 cm) or less in diameter. Seeds are angular achenes.
REGENERATION PROCESS: Multiflora rose propogates itself by
reseeding and vegetative reproduction. Little is known about its regenera-
tion process. Individual plants may produce up to 500,000 seeds per year.
Most plants develop from seeds that fall relatively close to the parent plant.
Some seeds are dispersed by birds and mammals. Seeds may remain viable
in the soil for 10 to 20 years, but detailed information on seed longevity is
lacking. Germination success may be enhanced by scarification from pass-
ing through bird digestive tracts.
Multiflora rose reproduces asexually by root suckering and layering.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Multiflora rose frequently colonizes road-
sides, old fields, pastures, prairies, savannas, open woodlands, and forest
edges, and may also invade dense forests where disturbance provides
canopy gaps. It is most productive in sunny areas with well-drained soils.
Multiflora rose is tolerant of a wide range of soil and environmental cond-
itions, but is not found in standing water or in extremely dry areas. Its
northern distribution is thought to be limited by intolerance to extreme
cold temperatures, but specific information is lacking.
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Multiflora rose is most commonly mentioned
as a component of early-successional communities, such as in abandoned
agricultural and pasture lands in the eastern U.S. Although descriptions of
establishment ecology are absent from the literature, it seems apparent
from sites where multiflora rose is present, that it is not limited to a specific
successional stage. In part because its seeds are bird dispersed, multiflora
rose can colonize gaps in late-successional forests, even though these forests
are thought to be relatively resistant to invasion by nonnative species. How-
ever, without extensive or recurrent disturbance, multiflora rose is prob-
ably not a serious long-term invasion threat in mature forests. It will likely
be shaded out by surrounding trees and shade-tolerant shrubs.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Flowering occurs from late April
through June, depending on location. Fruits develop by late summer
and often persist until spring.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Native to Japan, multiflora rose occurs
throughout eastern North America from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia
south to northern Florida, and west to Minnesota, Nebraska, and Texas.
It is also distributed along the West Coast from British Columbia to
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION:
Shrub specimens can be found on trails marked in red.
Appalachian Trail/Old Trail
South Ridge/North Ridge
Rolling Meadows/ Lost Mountain
The specific distribution for multifora rose has not been determined.
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES: Multiflora rose is
found across many upland habitats in North America. As a consequence,
it may be associated with a variety of plant taxa and communities.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: Multiflora rose hips are consumed by
many species of birds including grouse, ring-necked pheasants and wild
turkeys , and are particularly sought after by cedar waxwings and
American robins. Leaves and hips are consumed by chipmunks, white-
tailed deer, opossums, coyotes, black bears, beavers, snowshoe hares,
skunks, and mice. Leaves, twigs, bark and fruit are eaten by cottontail
rabbits, particularly during fall and winter. The hips of Rosa spp. are
especially important as winter wildlife food, when other high-nutrition
foods are unavailable.
Multiflora rose is used for cover during all times of year by cottontail
rabbits, white-tailed deer, pheasants, and mice. It is a preferred nesting
site species for gray catbirds. Southwestern willow flycatchers, a federally
listed endangered species, were observed nesting in multiflora rose in
The origins of multiflora rose in North America stem from its use as a
rootstock species for ornamental roses and as a fencerow plant.
Multiflora rose is a serious pest plant in many areas of North America. It
invades pasture areas, degrades forage quality, reduces grazing area and
agricultural productivity and can cause severe eye and skin irritation in
cattle. Multiflora rose can spread rapidly, severely restricting access to
pasture and recreational areas with "impenetrable thickets". Its character-
istic dense growth of foliage and stems inhibits growth of competing native
plants. In a survey of federal wilderness managers, multiflora rose was
mentioned as a "widely reported problem species" in Alabama, Arkansas,
Crooked Run Valley