Saturday, August 4, 2012

Careful of this thorny rose bush!

This is multiflora rose. It is a shrub native to Eastern Asia and was brought over to be used as "natural" fence lines, wildlife habitat, and ornamental hedges. In fact, the University planted multiflora rose bushes in Stinchfield Woods after they acquired the property in 1925 in an effort to create a maintenance-free fence along the property lines while providing a source of food and cover for birds to encourage on-site populations.

Now, generally considered an invasive species, you can find multiflora rose growing along many of the walking paths throughout Stinchfield. Like most invasives, it thrives in disturbed areas and tends to grow towards openings in order to have as much sun exposure as possible. This is why you'll often see this prickly shrub stretching into walkways so be careful not to walk through its branches; its thorns can give you a very painful scratch. I've been doing my best to cut the invading stems back from the trails and out of the way of passersby.

You can identify multiflora rose by the light, yellow-green color of its stems and leaves, its alternating compound leaflets, the feathery stipules at the base of each leaflet, and its recurving thorns (as seen in the third photo above). In the spring, they will grow clusters of five-petaled white flowers with many yellow stamens.

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