florida Early Detection Network


Multiflora rose


Rosa multiflora Thunb. ex Murr.


Rose family


Rosa multiflora


Close-up of flowers

Close-up of fringed stipules

Pink-flowered form




Synonyms: Rosa cathayensis (Rehd. & Wilson) Bailey


Botanical Glossary

Rosa multiflora is a densely spreading perennial shrub that can grow up to 4.5 m (15 ft.) tall. It has glabrous arching canes that can be red to green in color. Most Rosa multiflora plants have thorns, but there have been some plants observed without. The leaves are alternate and pinnately compound, with 5-11 serrated, elliptic leaflets that are 2.5-4 cm (1-1.5 in.) long. These leaves are smooth and dark above and pale with small hairs below. The stipules are pectinately toothed. This plant produces fragrant flowers during May and June. Each inflorescence bears many flowers, and the flowers have five white (or sometimes pink) petals and numerous stamens. Red fruits develop in mid to late summer, are nearly spherical and measure 6-8 mm (0.25-0.3 in.) in diameter. Page References Bailey 533, Fernald 870, Gleason & Cronquist 257, Holmgren 237, Magee & Ahles 601, Newcomb 318, Peterson & McKenny 2, Seymour 340. See reference section below for full citations.


Rosa spinosissima L. (Scotch rose), Rosa wichuraiana Crepin (memorial rose). Rosa multiflora is distinguished from other roses by the feathery or comb-like margin on its stipules (a narrow, green, leaf-like structure located at the base of each leaf stalk). Rosa spinosissima has a profuse amount of narrow, needle-like thorns on its branches. Rosa wichuraiana is a low-growing rose that often covers the ground.


The seeds of Rosa multiflora are dispersed by birds. The Northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos L.) seems to be closely associated with it.


Rosa multiflora is native to Japan. It can be found throughout the United States, with the exception of the Rocky Mountains, southeastern coastal plains and the Nevada and California deserts. It has been reported from all New England states.


Rosa multiflora was introduced in 1886 from Japan to the United States as rootstock for cultivated roses. From 1930 to 1960 the U.S. Soil Conservation Service advocated its use as a component of living fences and erosion control plans. As late as 1960 its planting was still encouraged for wildlife food and cover. It most likely made its way to New England via bird dispersal or roadside plantings.


Early Successional Forest, Edge, Open Disturbed Area, Pasture, Planted Forest, Railroad Right-of-Way, Roadside, Utility Right-of-Way, Vacant Lot, Yard or Garden. Rosa multiflora prefers deep, fertile, well drained but moist upland or bottomland habitats with a mild climate. It can be found along roadsides, in pastures, woodlands, prairies, fields and powerline corridors.


Rosa multiflora is widely distributed across the country because of its ability to endure a wide range of edaphic and environmental conditions. Rosa multiflora rapidly outcompetes surrounding vegetation, takes over pastures, and lowers crop yields. It forms dense, impenetrable thickets. The canes send up shoots when they come in contact with soil. A single plant can produce 500,000 or more seeds. These seeds can remain viable for 10-20 years in the seed bank. Rosa multiflora's hips are dispersed by birds, especially the mockingbird, cedar waxwing and American robin.


The Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group Invasive Plant Management Guide

Illinois Natural History Survey General description and management guidelines.


Documentation required: Photograph of habit, flowers and/or fruits. Best time for documentation: Spring, summer, fall.


Integrated Taxonomic Information System Taxonomic information

The PLANTS Database General information and a map

Missouri Department of Conservation General information and control

Illinois Department of Natural Resources General information and control

Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council General information and control

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources General information

Virginia Native Plant Society General information, drawings and control

Maine Natural Areas Program General information and control

Virginia Tech Dendrology Photographs and description

National Invasive Species Information Center Additional links


Bailey, L.H. 1949. Manual of Cultivated Plants. Macmillan, New York.

Barbour, B.M. and J.A. Meade. 1980. Control of multiflora rose in pastures. Proceeding NE Weed Science Society 34: 102-106.

Derr, J.F. 1989. Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) control with metsulfuron. Weeds Technology 3: 381-384.

Dirr, M.A. 1983. Manual of Woody Landscape Plants. Stipes Publishing Company, Champaign, Illinois.

Epstein, A.H., J.H. Hill and F.W. Nutter. 1997. Augmentation of rose rosette disease for biocontrol of multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora). Weed Science 45 (1): 172-178.

Evans, J.E. 1983. A literature review of management practices for multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora). Natural Areas Journal 3: 6-15.

Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany 8th edition. American Book Company, New York.

Fire Conference 2000. Proceedings of the Invasive Species Workshop: The Role of Fire in the Control and Spread of Invasive Species. The First National Congress on Fire Ecology, Prevention, and Management. Tall Timbers Research Station, Miscellaneous Publication No. 11.

Gillan, T.L. and D.H.S. Richardson. 1997. The chalcid seed wasp, Megastigmus nigrovariegatus Hymenoptera: Torymidae, on Rosa rugosa Thunb. In Nova Scotia. Canadian Entomologist 129 (5): 809-814.

Gleason, H.A. and A.C. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

Hipkins, P.L., W.E. Chappell, J.S. Coartney and M.L. Link. The use of plant growth regulators to prevent the spread of multiflora rose. Abs. Proceeding 33rd Annual Meeting Southern Weed Science Society, p. 158.

Hoffman, R. and K. Kearns. 1998. Wisconsin Manual of Control Recommendations for ecologically invasive plants. Bureau of Endangered Resources, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.

Holmgren, N.H. 1998. Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

Kmetz, K. 1978. Control of multiflora rose. Weeds Today 9: 22.

Magee, D.W and H.E. Ahles. 1999. Flora of the Northeast. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst.

Mays, W.T. and L.T. Kok. 1988. Seed wasp on multiflora rose, Rosa multiflora in Virginia (USA). Weed Technology 2: 265-268.

Newcomb, N. 1977. Newcomb's Wildflower Guide. Little Brown, Boston.

Peterson, R.T. and M. McKenny. 1968. A field Guide to Wildflowers of Northeastern and North-central North America. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.

Schery, R. 1977. The curious double life of Rosa multiflora. Horticulture 55(6): 56-61.

Scott, R.F. 1965. Problems of Multiflora rose spread and control. Trans. 30th North American Wildlife and Natural Resource Conference, Pp. 360-378.

Seymour, F.C. 1969. The Flora of New England. Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc., Tokyo, Japan.

USDA, NRCS. 2001. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.1. (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.