Wild Rose

Wild Rose (Rosa spp.)


A common site on abandoned land, wild roses come in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes. They generally are low shrubs, from 2-6 feet (.6-1.8 m) tall, with pink flowers from May until August. From July onwards, they produce scarlet “hips” or fruits that often hang on throughout the winter. Leaves are alternate and compound, made up of 5-7 small, toothed leaflets. Twigs have distinctive (and very sharp) thorns. Bark is green on new growth and turns red-to-brown as the plant gets older.

Wild Rose Gallery


Growing Conditions:

Can be found most often on unfarmed pastureland, and in meadows, hedgerows and windbreaks. Of the two main native species, Carolina or pasture rose (Rosa carolina) grows on drier sites, while Virginia rose (Rosa virginiana) tolerates wetter conditions along the edges of marshes or swamps. Both species grow best in full sun and will not tolerate much shading. Wild rose suckers freely from roots and underground stems, forming dense colonies if allowed to run wild.


Transplanting can be successful, but since you are usually digging up runners with few roots, it is best to cut off most top growth above 6 inches (15 cm). Make a diagonal cut just above a bud. Plant where you can provide adequate water, mulch thoroughly, and do not give up hope. Often they will initially turn brown and wither, but weeks later one or two new green shoots appear from the crown. They really are tough, resilient plants. Summer cuttings also work well if you avoid the soft tips, but success is usually less than 50%. We are also trying seed at Macphail Woods. Collect anytime after hips ripen, separate seeds from fruit by hand and plant in a nursery bed. These seeds have hard seed coats and will take at least two years to germinate. Seeds collected as soon as the hips turn scarlet and planted immediately may germinate sooner.

Wildlife Uses:

Rose hips are a preferred food of northern mockingbird, Swainson’s thrush and cedar waxwing. They are also eaten by a dozen other species and used as emergency food during the winter. See our Attracting Birds in Winter page for more information. Ruffed grouse and ring-necked pheasant also eat the buds in winter, while many birds use thickets of wild rose for cover and protection from predators. Many types of small mammals are also known to browse fruit, leaves and twigs.

Areas of Usage:

A very ornamental addition to semi-wild landscape plantings around the home. Again, plant wild rose only where thickets can form. Leaves change colour in the fall and the scarlet fruit contrasts nicely against a snowy background. Rose hips are rich in Vitamin C and can be added to jellies and teas. Wild roses are also useful as a low shrub in windbreaks and hedgerow plantings, enhancing both the landscape and wildlife habitat. Since wild roses frequently hybridize, try to plant roses from wet areas into wet areas and from dry sites to dry sites. This is a good idea whether transplanting or growing from seed or cuttings.

Upcoming Events

9:00 pm Summer Camp: Young Ecologists Se...
Summer Camp: Young Ecologists Se...
Jul 6 @ 9:00 pm – Jul 10 @ 3:00 pm
Young Ecologists: Session One This camp will begin to introduce the campers to the amazing complexity of our native Acadian forests. They will dissect owl pellets, take part in forest restoration planning and plantings and
9:00 pm Summer Camp: Nature Discovery Se...
Summer Camp: Nature Discovery Se...
Jul 13 @ 9:00 pm – Jul 17 @ 3:00 pm
Nature Discovery: Session One This camp will introduce the children to the woods, stream and native tree nursery that surround our Nature Center. The campers will delight in learning to use all their senses to
9:00 pm Summer Camp: Becoming a Naturali...
Summer Camp: Becoming a Naturali...
Jul 20 @ 9:00 pm – Jul 24 @ 3:00 pm
Becoming a Naturalist Session One This camp focuses on encountering and describing the natural world. Through the use of art and other hands-on outdoor activities, they’ll expand their understanding of life in the woodlands, waterways,
10:00 am Tracking the Mammals of PEI
Tracking the Mammals of PEI
Jul 25 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Come on out and learn about the native and introduced mammals found on PEI, as well as a brief look at some of the mammals we’ve lost. After a brief slideshow, we’ll head off to
9:00 pm Summer Camp: Bushcraft Ecology A...
Summer Camp: Bushcraft Ecology A...
Jul 27 @ 9:00 pm – Jul 31 @ 3:00 pm
Bushcraft Ecology Ages 12-14 These campers will delight in learning survival skills such as one-match fire making, shelter building, rope making with natural fibres, and tracking animals. Touching on plant and tree identification, campers will

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