Invasive Species Sheet - Multiflora Rose

Invasive Species Identification Sheet

Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora Thunb. ex Murr.)

  • deciduous shrub, with vigorous climbing/scrambling stems; up to 10' tall
  • backward-bending prickles on stems
  • clusters of white flowers have a spicy, rose fragrance
  • leaves alternate and compound with 5-11 sharply-toothed leaflets
  • the fringed stipules (described below) are a key characteristic

Roses typically have a pair of highly modified leaves (stipules) that are attached for most of their length at the base of each leaf stalk making the stalk look wide where the compound leaf joins the stem. In Multiflora Rose, the stipules have tiny glands and a conspicuous fringe of hairs on the edges (hairs easily seen without a hand lens). The tiny glands are on the backs and edges of the stipules and on the sides of the hairs. The glands (some of which are on the ends of very tiny stalks) look like little red, brown, or black dots (use hand lens).

The name “Multiflora” means many flowers. The pyramid-shaped flower clusters are located at the end of stems and bloom in early summer. Each flower is 3/4" – 1 1/2" across with 5 white (sometimes pale, pinkish-white) petals. Fruits are bright red, 1/4" wide, and soft when first produced in late summer. They become leathery, and persist after the leaves are shed.

Multiflora Rose was widely planted as a “living fence” and wildlife food plant. Its ability to spread by arching stems that root at their tips allows it to replace native vegetation with dense, bushy thickets. It is found in pastures, roadsides, stream banks (but not in standing water), forest edges, and may become established in open woods. Birds and mammals disperse the seeds.