Comprehensive Description

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This introduced wildflower is a branching woody shrub about 2-6' tall. Older branches are woody, brown, and glabrous, while young shoots are light green and densely hairy. Both branches and shoots are covered with straight prickles of varying lengths. Alternate compound leaves occur along young shoots; they are widely spreading and odd-pinnate with 5-9 leaflets. The leaflets are about 1-2½" long and about one-half as much across; they are oblong-ovate or oblong-obcordate, crenate-serrate along their margins, and rather thick-textured. The upper surfaces of the leaflets are dark green, hairless, shiny, and conspicuously wrinkled along their veins, while their lower surfaces are more whitish green from dense pubescence. The central stalk (rachis) of each compound leaf is light green and pubescent; its underside has small prickles. The petiole of each compound leaf is rather stout, light green, and pubescent; at its base there is a pair of large lanceolate stipules about 1" long and one-third as much across. Each stipule tapers to a flared point. Upper shoots occasionally produce either individual or small cymes of 2-5 flowers on short branching peduncles. Individual flowers are 2-3½" across, consisting of 5 petals, 5 sepals, a ring of numerous stamens, a flat-topped cluster of pistils, and a light green base. The broad rounded petals are widely spreading and often wrinkled; they are white, pink, or magenta (more often the latter). The sepals are light green to reddish green, linear-lanceolate, and glandular-pubescent. The blooming period occurs during the summer for about 3 months. The flowers have a strong fragrance that is typical of roses. The flowers are replaced by subgloboid fruits (rose hips) about ¾-1¼" across that have persistent sepals. These fruits are initially light green, but they eventually become bright orange-red or red. Each fruit has a dry pulp containing several bony seeds. The root system is woody and branching, producing vegetative offsets from underground runners.


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers


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