Practical information to identify and manage non-native, invasive plants and animals
The Quiet Invasion:
A Guide to Invasive Species of the Galveston Bay Area
Multiflora rose
Rosa multiflora

USDA Symbol:ROMU
ITIS TSN:24833
Presence:Current Invaders
Habitat:Terrestrial
Native Range:Asia
Toxic Characteristics
May act as a severe eye and skin irritant in cattle.
Geographic Distribution
Found in every state in the East and Southeast west to Minnesota south to Texas. Also reported in Washington and Oregon. Found in the Lower Galveston Bay watershed in Harris County.
Introduction Pathways
Brought to the United States in 1866 as a rootstock for grafting ornamental roses. Later promoted for erosion control and wildlife cover.
Specific Primary Habitats
Thrives in disturbed pastures, fields, and flood plains. Spreads along forest margins and treefall gap areas. Tolerates shade, but prefers full sun. Low tolerance for overly moist soil.
Identifying Characteristics
This shrub is marked by long, arched stems with recurved thorns. Leaves are alternate, compound, and divided into 5 - 11 leaflets, each oblong and toothed. It is distinguished from other roses by a pair of small fringed structures (stipules) at the base of the leaf petiole. Flowers are white with small (0.4 - 0.6 in. long) petals and 5 sepals. Hips (fruit) are bright red, small, and fleshy.
Reproduction Characteristics
On-site colonization is by stem rooting; spreads off-site via seed. One plant may produce 1 million seeds per year, which remain viable in soil up to 20 years. Flowers bloom May - July. Fruit develop in September and persist on plant through the winter.
Growth Characteristics
The multiflora rose grows slowly in the first 1 - 2 years, followed by rapid growth and spread. It can reach 13 feet in height.
Ecological, Economic, or Social Impact
Individual bushes of the multiflora rose rapidly increase in diameter, merging to form dense woody thickets in what was formerly prairie. Displaces native grasses in prairies and native shrubs in woodlands. Greatly reduces available forage for cattle.
Control
In pasture, repeated mowings, followed by treatments of stumps or new growth with glyphosate is effective. Goat grazing has been proven quite effective as well. In natural areas, spot-cut and carefully treat stumps with glyphosate.

Native Species Alternatives
Below is a list of alternative plants that are native to the area:
  • Purple poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata)
  • Scarlet mallow (Hibiscus laevis)
  • Rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)
This species belongs to the following lists:
Images
To view a larger version of an image, click on the thumbnail.
Natural woodland area infestation of the multiflora rose. Photo courtesy of James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 0016089.
Natural woodland area infestation of the multiflora rose. Photo courtesy of James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 0016089.
Roadside infestation of the multiflora rose. Photo courtesy of Randy Westbrooks, U.S. Geological Survey, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 1299193.
Roadside infestation of the multiflora rose. Photo courtesy of Randy Westbrooks, U.S. Geological Survey, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 1299193.
Single leaf of the multiflora rose; note toothed leaflets. Photo courtesy of James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 2307109.
Single leaf of the multiflora rose; note toothed leaflets. Photo courtesy of James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 2307109.
Identifying feature of the multiflora rose; note stipules at base of leaf stem. Photo courtesy of James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 2307111.
Identifying feature of the multiflora rose; note stipules at base of leaf stem. Photo courtesy of James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 2307111.
Close-up of a flower cluster of the multiflora rose. Photo courtesy of James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 2307112.
Close-up of a flower cluster of the multiflora rose. Photo courtesy of James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 2307112.
Cluster of hips (fruit) of the multiflora rose. Photo courtesy of James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 2307113.
Cluster of hips (fruit) of the multiflora rose. Photo courtesy of James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 2307113.
Multiflora rose stems showing recurved thorns. Photo courtesy of James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 2307116.
Multiflora rose stems showing recurved thorns. Photo courtesy of James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 2307116.
Page Updated/Reviewed: 07/14/2010 8:32 AM
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