Thorny, thicket-forming shrub with wide, arching or climbing canes and stiff, curved thorns. Can reach 10-15’ tall and 9-13’ wide. Typically more spreading than erect.
OverviewOther names for this plant include:
- Common names: Japanese rose, many-flowered rose
- Scientific names: R. cathayensis; R. multiflora var. carnea
- Multiflora rose invades open woodlands, forest edges, old fields, roadsides, savannas and prairies. It can tolerate a wide range of soil and environmental conditions and full or partial sun. It does best on well-drained soils.
- It is extremely prolific and can form impenetrable thickets that exclude native plant species.
- Introduced from Japan in 1886 as rootstock for cultivated roses, it has been planted widely to curb soil erosion, as a living fence and as a source of food and cover for wildlife.
- Produces up to 500,000 seeds per year. Seeds remain viable in the soil for 10 to 20 years.
Classification in Wisconsin: Restricted
Species Assessment Groups (SAG) were assembled to recommend a legal classification for each species considered for NR 40. The recommendation for multiflora rose was based upon this literature review developed by the department.
Leaves: Alternate, pinnately compound with 5-11 small (0.5-1”) sharply-toothed oval leaflets, nearly smooth on the upper surface and paler with short hairs on the underside. Pair of fringed stipules (a leaf-like structure) at the base of each leaf.
Flowers: Abundant, showy, fragrant, and white to slightly pink, Flowers are ½ -1 ½” wide and form a panicle (a pyramidal, loosely branched flower cluster). Blooms mid- to late spring.
Fruits & seeds: Clusters of small (0.25” in diameter), hard, bright red fruits, or rose hips, develop in summer, become brownish-red at maturity and remain on the plant through winter. Dispersed by birds and mammals.
Roots: Stolons (horizontal stems) can root at the nodes; arching stems are capable of rooting at their tips.
Similar species: Native roses are distinguished by stipules with entire margins and slender, straight thorns. Most native roses also have pink flowers.
Mechanical: Pull or dig up small plants. Larger plants can be pulled with a chain, tractor or bulldozer. Be sure all roots are removed since new plants can develop from root fragments. Mow 3 to 6 times during the growing season for 2 to 4 years. Early spring burns can be effective in fire-adapted communities, but areas must be monitored for seedlings and resprouts.
Chemical: Cut stump treatment with glyphosate. Basal bark treatment with triclopyr ester. Treat foliage of budding or flowering plants with glyphosate or metsulfuron-methyl plus a surfactant. To prevent bud development the following year, treat foliage with fosamine and water solution in late summer.
Biological: Several biocontrol agents show potential: a native viral pathogen (rose rosette disease), which is spread by an eriophyid mite (P. fructiphilus); a seed-infesting wasp (M. aculeatus var. nigroflavus); and a stem girdler (Agrilus aurichalceus) (Amrine 2003).
For more information on control techniques, visit the Multiflora rose factsheet by University of Wisconsin-Extension.
View multiflora rose pictures in our photo gallery!
ResourcesSources for content:
- Czarapata, Elizabeth; Invasive Plants of the Upper Midwest: an illustrated guide to their identification and control. University of Wisconsin Press. 2005. Pg. 43-44
- Amrine, J.W. Jr. Multiflora rose. In: Van Driesche, R., et al., 2002, Biological Control of Invasive Plants in the Eastern United States, USDA Forest Service Publication FHTET-2002-04, 413 p. Last updated Nov. 5, 2003.
- Plant Conservation Alliance’s Alien Plant Working Group: Fact Sheet. Multiflora rose. Last updated Feb. 12, 2009.