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Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora)

What is it?

Multiflora rose is a large, dense shrub that has escaped from ornamental and conservation plantings to become a serious invasive plant problem across the eastern half of the U.S. It invades natural areas, pastures, and light gaps in forests. Multiflora rose produces abundant small white flowers in May and June and set fruit in mid to late summer. Birds and mammals consume the red fruits, called hips, and may disperse them long distances. The majority of plants develop from seeds in the soil, which may remain viable for 10 to 20 years. It may also spread vegetatively when tips of arching branches touch the ground and develop roots (called layering), and from plants that emerge from shallow roots. Plants grow slowly for the first one or two years followed by rapid expansion through layering and root sprouts. Multiflora rose spreads quickly and may grow 1 to 2 feet per week to form impenetrable thickets of thorny stems.

When to remove

You can remove multiflora rose pretty much any time of year, however it can be easier in the wintertime when you’re not dealing with other vegetation. Also, if you’re just cutting the canes but not removing the crowns, the efficacy increases if done in the late fall through late winter. Pulling tends to be easier in the spring or fall when the soil is moist. If you are removing multiflora rose after the fruit has set, then you need to take extra care when disposing of the material.

How to remove

Pull seedlings (up to ½” in diameter) and small or shallow-rooted plants when the soil is moist. Use a digging tool to remove the entire plant. For larger plants, start by cutting the canes back to the crown with loppers, then use a forked spade or weed wrench to remove the crown. Another option for cutting canes is to use a pole pruning saw, which allows you to get at the base of the canes without getting tangled in them. If you are working in a wetland where digging isn’t allowed, you’ll have to settle for cutting. Repeated cutting will control the spread of multiflora rose, but will not eradicate it. Stems should be cut at least once per growing season as close to ground level as possible.

How to dispose

Prior to fruit ripening, seedlings and small plants can be left on site with roots exposed. No special care is needed. Larger branches can be put in a brush pile, and chipped after material has dried.  After fruit is ripe, cut and bag any stems bearing the red hips in black plastic bags for disposal, and add any remaining larger branches in a brush pile as before.

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