Introduced into the United States from eastern Asia in 1866, the multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) was considered a valuable source of rootstock for cultivated roses. In 1930, the U.S. government promoted this vigorous, perennial shrub for use in minimizing soil erosion; this in part contributed to the rapid spread of multiflora rose. Presently the plant is commonly found in large thickets along fencerows, in pastures and hayfields (Figure 1). Multiflora rose has been confirmed in 39 states, and has infested over 45 million acres in the eastern half of the country1. It is classified as noxious or banned in 12 states, including Missouri.
Multiflora rose is an erect and branching shrub; the stems can grow from 3 to 10 feet in height and may have curved thorns along them. The leaves are divided into 7 to 9 leaflets (Figure 2), which are elliptical in shape and approximately ½ to 2 ½ inches long and ¼ to 1 ¼ inches wide. The leaves also have coarsely toothed or serrated margins, and usually have hairs on the lower leaflet surface. The leaflets collectively form a leaf, which is attached to the stem by petioles, and the leaves are arranged alternately along the stem. At the base of the petiole, a fringe of stipules can be found; the stipules resemble stiff hairs fused together (Figure 3), and are one of the key distinguishing characteristics of multiflora rose in comparison to other similar rose species.
The plant is an obligate out-crosser, meaning that it relies on general insects such as bumble bees and syrphid flies for pollination. The flowers are fragrant, white, approximately ½ to 1 inch in diameter, usually have 5 petals, and tend to develop in May and/or June (Figure 4). The fruits, also known as “hips”, are red and densely covered with hair. Each hip can contain 1 to 20 seeds, which are dispersed by birds and can remain viable in the soil for over 20 years2. Multiflora rose can also reproduce vegetatively. The root system is fibrous, and the stems are capable of rooting where they come in contact with the soil, resulting in dense thickets of this species.
Mechanical removal of multiflora rose is effective when all roots are completely removed from the soil. Additionally 3 to 6 mowings per season for 2 to 4 years in a row have shown to be effective in reducing infestations. Chemical control is most effective as the plant comes out of dormancy in the spring.
Glyphosate can be an effective foliar spot-spray, but is a non-selective herbicide and will injure any grass forage it contacts. For selective control in grass pastures and hayfields, metsulfuron products (Cimarron, Cimarron Max, Chaparral, etc.), 2,4-D and dicamba combinations (Weedmaster, etc.), or combinations of GrazonNext or Grazon P+D with triplopyr (Remedy, PastureGard, etc.) are effective foliar sprays. Cutting multiflora rose stems and painting a herbicide (such as glyphosate at a 10 to 20% solution) on the stump can kill the root systems and prevent resprouting. If left unchecked, studies have shown that a single multifora rose plant can rapidly populate an entire site and persist for 30 years or more2.
To learn more about multiflora rose, visit weedid.missouri.edu
To learn more about weed and brush control in pasture and non-crop settings, purchase a copy of extension publication IPM1031 at: http://extension.missouri.edu/p/ipm1031
1Jesse LC, Moloney KA, and JJ Obrycki (2006) Insect pollinators of the invasive plant, Rosa multiflora, in Iowa, USA. Weed Biology & Management 6(4): 235-240.
2Banasiak SE and SJ Meiners (2009) Long term dynamics of Rosa multiflora in a successional system. Biol. Invasions 11:215-224.
The MU Extension’s WEED ID guide can be found on the Web site:
http://weedid.missouri.edu/ And is available as a free app, called ID Weeds, for Apple and Android mobile devices.
REVISED: September 30, 2015