Multiflora Rose

Photo copyright Lauretta Jones

For the last week or two we have been moving through a perfumed world. No, I don’t mean your co-worker in the next cubicle who wears too much cologne or after-shave; I refer to the honey-tinged fragrance wafting past on a warm breeze as you walk to the train or to the store, stroll around your neighborhood or hike in Angle Fly. If you follow the scent, you will find it is a signal released by the profuse white flowers of Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora).

Native to Japan, Korea and China, this showy perennial shrub with its sharply-thorned, arching stems quickly takes over large tracts of land, forming thickets that few native plants can penetrate. It even climbs through the lower branches of trees with canes as long as 9-16 feet. It is one of many plants that was short-sightedly imported and promoted to solve a variety of problems (livestock fencing, wildlife habitat, highway plantings, soil erosion), but has turned into a serious pest itself.
The white flowers of Multiflora Rose grow in large clusters, while our wild native roses are usually pink and bear one or a few blossoms per branch. In the Angle Fly Preserve, you may also find a few pink or red cultivated rose shrubs that are the remnants of long-ago gardens.
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