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Home > Plants, Pests & Pest Control > Pest Management > Noxious & Invasive Weed Program > Weed of the Month > May 2016 - Multiflora Rose

May Weed of the Month: Multiflora Rose


Multiflora rose plant covered in white flowersMay’s weed of the month is an aggressively spreading, thorny plant. Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) is native to eastern Asia. It was introduced to North America as a rootstock for ornamental roses, and for erosion control, living fencerows, and wildlife habitat. Because of its highly invasive nature, it escaped cultivation and has become a serious threat to habitats where it outcompetes native plants and desirable agricultural forages.

Multiflora rose is a multi-stemmed, bushy shrub with long, thorny stems. The stems can grow up to six feet tall, and spread horizontally up to 15 feet. Stems are green or reddish in color with stiff, curved thorns. Leaves are compound and divided into 5-11 leaflets. The leaflets are one-two inches in length. Clusters of showy white flowers are produced in May and June, and have a distinct rose fragrance. The flowers produce rose hip fruits that turn bright red and contain several seeds that persist throughout the winter.

Multiflora rose can invade many types of habitat. It has been recorded in forest understories, hedgerows, savannas, stream banks, wetland and bog edges, pastures, roadsides, and other disturbed habitats. In Minnesota, it is commonly found in the southeastern part of the state and is spreading northward. It can invade new areas through seed dispersal when animals consume the fruit and spread the seed, and it also spreads by the elongated stems rooting to the ground.

Because of its ability to root from stems, multiflora rose can form thick, impenetrable thickets. The stems can also climb trees, shrubs, and structures that make it difficult for humans, wildlife, and livestock to navigate. Its invasive growth habitat prevents the growth of native herbaceous and woody plants.

Management of multiflora rose requires a multi-year commitment.

  • Large populations invading upland sites can be mowed 3-6 times per growing season for a period of 2-4 years.
  • Smaller infestations can be pulled; however, pulled plants should be piled or burned at a designated site to prevent the stems from re-rooting.
  • Multiflora rose can be successfully managed by grazing goats. If an infestation is managed properly, grazing goats can kill multiflora rose.
  • Prescribed burns in early spring may reduce infestations. For information on prescribed burns, please visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.
  • Herbicide applications may also be effective at controlling multiflora rose. If using herbicide treatments, check with your local University of Minnesota Extension agent, co-op, or certified landscape care expert for assistance and recommendations. There are several businesses throughout the state with certified herbicide applicators that can be hired to perform chemical applications. Multiflora rose is also found in or around riparian and wetland habitats. If treating plants near water with an herbicide, please be aware of the state pesticide laws and use only products labeled for aquatic use.