Department of Natural Resources
multiflora rose Rosa multiflora
Multiflora rose was introduced to the eastern United States from
Japan in 1886 as rootstock for cultivated roses. In the 1930s the U.S.
Soil Conservation Service promoted use of multiflora rose in soil erosion
control. Multiflora rose was introduced into Illinois in the 1950s for
use as wildlife cover and food. Wildlife managers recognized that this
thorny, bushy shrub provided excellent escape cover and a source of winter
food. Because of its dense thorny nature, the commercial nursery trade
began marketing it as a "living fence" as well. The species
soon spread and became a serious invader of agricultural lands, pastures
and natural communities throughout Illinois. Multiflora rose readily invades
prairies, savannas, open woodlands and forest edges. It is a thorny, bushy
shrub that can form impenetrable thickets or "living fences"
and smother out other vegetation. It is a serious pest species throughout
the eastern United States. Multiflora rose is categorized as an exotic
weed under the Illinois Exotic Weed Control Act of 1987. As such, the
sale or planting of this species within Illinois is prohibited.
borne alternately on the stems and divided into five to 11 leaflets. Each
leaflet is oval and toothed along its margin. Clusters of numerous, white
flowers blossom in late spring. The fruits are small, firm, red hips that
may remain on the plant into winter. The great majority of plants develop
from seeds remaining in the soil relatively close to plants from which
they were produced. Birds and mammals also consume the hips and can disperse
them greater distances in their wastes. Rose seeds may remain viable in
the soil for 10-20 years. Multiflora rose also spreads by layering, when
the tips of canes touch the ground and form roots, and by plants that
arise from shallow roots. Older rose shrubs may obtain a height of 15
feet or more.
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