Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Rosa multiflora
(multiflora rose)



Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)


  • Last modified
  • 22 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Rosa multiflora
  • Preferred Common Name
  • multiflora rose
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • R. multiflora is a wild rose. It can form large, spreading, thorny thickets that can spread across grazing land and waste places, forming impenetrable barriers to both livestock and humans, and provide shelter for wildlife but also for pe...

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Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose); flowering habit and foliage. USA. June 2012.
CaptionRosa multiflora (multiflora rose); flowering habit and foliage. USA. June 2012.
Copyright©Rob Routledge/Sault College/ - CC BY 3.0 US
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose); flowering habit and foliage. USA. June 2012.
HabitRosa multiflora (multiflora rose); flowering habit and foliage. USA. June 2012.©Rob Routledge/Sault College/ - CC BY 3.0 US
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose); habit, showing multiflora rose blossoms. Franklin Farm section of Oak Hill, Fairfax County, Virginia, USA. May 2016.
CaptionRosa multiflora (multiflora rose); habit, showing multiflora rose blossoms. Franklin Farm section of Oak Hill, Fairfax County, Virginia, USA. May 2016.
Copyright©Famartin/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose); habit, showing multiflora rose blossoms. Franklin Farm section of Oak Hill, Fairfax County, Virginia, USA. May 2016.
HabitRosa multiflora (multiflora rose); habit, showing multiflora rose blossoms. Franklin Farm section of Oak Hill, Fairfax County, Virginia, USA. May 2016.©Famartin/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Rosa multiflora Thunb.

Preferred Common Name

  • multiflora rose

Other Scientific Names

  • Rosa cathayensis (Rehder & E.H. Wilson) L. H. Bailey
  • Rosa japonica Rossig
  • Rosa multiflora f. watsoniana (Crep.) Matsum.
  • Rosa multiflora var. brachyancantha (Focke) Rehder & E. H. Wilson
  • Rosa multiflora var. calva Franch. & Sav.
  • Rosa multiflora var. gentiliana (H. Lev. & Vaniot) T.T. Yu & Tsai
  • Rosa polyanthus Rossig
  • Rosa watsoniana Crep.

Local Common Names

  • Chinese: fen tuan wei; y qiang wei
  • English: baby rose; Japanese rose; many-flower rose; rambler rose; seven-sisters rose
  • French: rosier multiflore
  • China: ye qiang wei
  • Germany: Bueschel- Rose; vielblutige Rose
  • Italy: rosa moltflora; rosa moltiflora
  • Japan: no-ibara
  • Korea, Republic of: jjille namu
  • Netherlands: veelbloemige roos
  • Sweden: japansk klatterros; klätterros

EPPO code

  • ROSMU (Rosa multiflora)

Summary of Invasiveness

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R. multiflora is a wild rose. It can form large, spreading, thorny thickets that can spread across grazing land and waste places, forming impenetrable barriers to both livestock and humans, and provide shelter for wildlife but also for pests such as rats. R. multiflora is a prolific seed producer. It is a declared noxious weed in several states in the USA, where it can reduce pastoral production as well as invading and damaging a number of habitats. R. multiflora occupies 45 million ha throughout the eastern USA, but outside North America it appears to be much less of a problem.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Rosales
  •                         Family: Rosaceae
  •                             Genus: Rosa
  •                                 Species: Rosa multiflora

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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R. multiflora is one of the ten species of roses from which modern roses are thought to have originated (OGTR, 2009). There are four varieties in China: var. alboplena, var. camea, var. formosana (from Taiwan) and var. multiflora (eFloras, 2013). The Plant List (2013) accepts the variety cathayensis (Rehder and E.H. Wilson) and the form platyphylla ((Thory) Rehder andand E.H. Wilson) as valid.


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Modified from Webb et al. (1988):

R. multiflora is a scrambling shrub or liane, more or less deciduous; stems often long and climbing to about 6 m high, often intertwining and much-branched, often layering, glabrous; armature 0 or few to numerous, more or less uniform, flattened, falcate prickles. Leaves with 3-4 pairs of leaflets; petiole 15-30-(35) mm long, tomentose and sometimes with glandular hairs; stipules adnate, usually densely clothed in glandular hairs and moderately to densely puberulent, pectinate with many narrow lobes, sometimes the lobes pinnately divided. Lamina of leaflets 15-50-(60) × 10-30 mm, elliptic to oblanceolate or obovate, shining deep green and glabrous above, moderately to densely clothed in eglandular hairs beneath; margins serrate; base cuneate to rounded; apex acute to acuminate or cuspidate. Flowers usually numerous in a pyramidal panicle, occasionally few, single, or rarely semi-double with about 10 petals, 20-25 mm diameter; pedicels and peduncles moderately to densely pilose. Sepals deciduous, lanceolate to elliptic-ovate, acuminate, tomentose inside and on margins, with very few to many glandular hairs outside and on margins; outer sepals usually pinnately divided with a few narrowly linear lobes. Petals 8-14 mm long, obovate or broadly obovate, white or slightly pink. Styles fused in a column, well-exserted, glabrous. Fruit 6-8 × 4-5 mm, more or less ellipsoid, glabrous, shining red or deep orange.

Plant Type

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Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated


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R. multiflora is native to East Asia. It has been introduced to Pakistan, South Africa, North America, Australia and New Zealand.

R. multiflora now occurs throughout eastern North America, from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia to northern Florida and west to Minnesota, Nebraska and Texas, as well as along the west coast from British Columbia to California (Munger, 2002). According to Underwood et al. (1996, cited in Van Dreische, 2002) R. multiflora occupies 45 million ha throughout the eastern USA. The plant frequently colonises roadsides, old fields, pastures, prairies, savannas, open woodlands, forest edges, and it can also invade dense forests where the canopy has been opened up.

The range of R. multiflora var. formosana falls within the overall range of variation for var. multiflora in China (eFloras, 2013). The two other varieties cultivated in China (var. alboplena, var. camea) do not occur spontaneously.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 10 Feb 2022
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes


South AfricaPresentIntroduced1945


North KoreaPresentNative
South KoreaPresent


AustriaPresentIntroducedFirst reported: <1890
United KingdomPresentIntroduced1930

North America

CanadaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-New BrunswickPresentIntroducedInvasive
-Newfoundland and LabradorPresentIntroducedInvasive
-Nova ScotiaPresentIntroducedInvasive
Costa RicaPresent
GuatemalaPresentVerapaz, Chimaltenango, Huehuetenango, Quetzaltenango and Totonicapán
United StatesPresent
-AlabamaPresentIntroducedInvasiveDeclared weed
-ConnecticutPresentIntroducedInvasiveDeclared weed
-District of ColumbiaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-IllinoisPresentIntroducedInvasiveDeclared weed
-IndianaPresentIntroducedInvasiveDeclared weed
-IowaPresentIntroducedInvasiveDeclared weed
-MarylandPresentIntroducedInvasiveDeclared weed
-MassachusettsPresentIntroducedInvasiveDeclared weed
-MinnesotaPresentIntroducedInvasiveDeclared weed
-MissouriPresentIntroducedInvasiveDeclared weed
-New HampshirePresentIntroducedInvasiveDeclared weed
-New JerseyPresentIntroducedInvasive
-New MexicoPresentIntroducedInvasive
-New YorkPresentIntroducedInvasive
-North CarolinaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroducedInvasiveDeclared weed
-Rhode IslandPresentIntroducedInvasive
-South CarolinaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-TennesseePresentIntroducedInvasiveDeclared weed
-WashingtonPresentIntroducedInvasiveDeclared weed
-West VirginiaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-WisconsinPresentIntroducedInvasiveDeclared weed


New ZealandPresentIntroducedInvasive

History of Introduction and Spread

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R. multiflora was originally introduced to North America in 1866 as a rootstock onto which other rose species or cultivars were grafted (Wyman, 1949, cited in Eckardt andMartin, 2001); however, it is now no longer used among horticulturalists in the USA and is not available from nurseries (Doudrick, 1986, cited in Eckardt and Martin, 2001).

Its spread in the USA was deliberately encouraged by the US Soil Conservation Service from the 1930s to 1960s, when it was widely planted as a wildlife plant for erosion control and as a hedge (Eckardt and Martin, 2001).

Ghosh (2009) analysed genetic variation in eight different patches of R. multiflora plants in northeastern Ohio, USA, and concluded ‘overall, the results are consistent with relatively diverse initial founder populations, and a subsequent spread of the species in local founder populations. The findings also suggest some level of inbreeding within local populations following population establishment.’ The diverse founder populations resulted from the many repeated introductions (and escapes) of the species in North America.

Risk of Introduction

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R. multiflora has been commonly used in many countries as a rootstock for other roses. In some regions it now occurs relatively widely, so its further spread within these countries is always possible. In New Zealand, as in Australia and formerly in North America, many wild R. multiflora plants are the result of stock spreading after the scion rose has died (Webb et al., 1988).

With its bird-dispersed seeds, R. multiflora is capable of establishing in gaps in established forests, although as these gaps are overtopped by mature trees R. multiflora is likely to be shaded out (Munger, 2002). 


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In its native environment, R. multiflora occurs in thickets, scrub, slopes and riversides, from 300 to 2000 m above sea level (eFloras, 2013). It is seems particularly well-adapted to steep hillsides (Doll, 2006). R. multiflora tolerates a wide range of soil and environmental conditions, but is not found in standing water or in extremely dry areas (Munger, 2002). It is moderately winter hardy but can be killed by cold winters in northern USA (Doll, 2006).

R. multiflora frequently colonises roadsides and fence rows, stream banks, recreational land, old fields, pastures, prairies, savannas, open woodlands and forest edges, and it can also invade dense forests where the canopy has been opened up. It is often a component of early-successional communities on abandoned agricultural or pastoral lands (Munger, 2002)

In North America, where it is widely naturalised, it is most productive in sunny areas with well-drained soils. It is often a component of early-successional communities such as in abandoned agricultural and pastoral lands in the USA (Munger, 2002).

In Australia it is a minor environmental weed of roadsides, old settlements and creek lines (Herbiguide, 2013) and in New Zealand it mainly grows in and close to settlements on roadsides, in waste places and shrubberies around old gardens (Webb et al., 1988).

Habitat List

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Terrestrial ManagedRural areas Present, no further details
Terrestrial ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details
Terrestrial ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Present, no further details
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

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2n=14 (Neumeyer, 2003).

Reproductive biology

R. multiflora canes root at the tip when canes touch the ground, and new stems can also arise from root sprouts and rhizomes (Eastman, 2003, cited in OGTR, 2009), although Doll (2006) claimed that this ‘is not a common phenomenon.’ On the other hand, Christen and Matlack (2009) reported that within-site spread is driven by vegetative propagation in close proximity to parent plants.

In North America, flowering occurs from late May to June. R. multiflora is pollinated is by insects. Van Dreische (2002) reported that the flowers produce ‘large amounts of golden, sweet-tasting pollen.’ The inflorescence has 25 to 100 flowers borne in terminal clusters (Doll, 2006). After pollination, single-seeded achenes with hard seed coats are formed within the fleshy fruits. The fruits are initially green but later become a very conspicuous bright red, when they are recognised as rose hips. Each hip contains 7-8 seeds and, if not eaten by birds, often persists on the parent plant, forming a dry leathery capsule.

Jesse et al. (2006) investigated insects that pollinated R. multiflora in Iowa, USA, and found the two most common pollinators were Syrphidae (hover flies) and Apis mellifera (honey bees), followed by other species of flies. Solitary bees and beetles were also seen visiting flowers, and a wide variety of other insects were caught on sticky cards placed on branches bearing flowers.

In southeastern USA robust bushes produce an average of 50 flower clusters on each cane. Each cane can theoretically produce 17,500 seeds each year; thus each plant has the potential to produce 500,000 seeds every year (Dreische et al., 2002).

Physiology and phenology

Fresh seeds removed from the hip show very low levels of germination, but leaching with activated charcoal or treatment with macerating enzymes improves germination (Yambe et al., 1995). Alternatively, R. multiflora seeds require about 6 weeks of moist chilling at 3oC before they will germinate (Hartmann and Kester, 1975, cited in OGTR, 2009). Seeds made germinable by exposure to a mixture of enzymes had a germination rate of 60% after 2 minutes exposure to red light, an effect which could be reversed by exposure to far-red light (Yambe et al., 1995), which suggests that a phytochrome system is present in the seeds. Wyman (1940, cited in Eckardt and Martin, 2001) mentioned that scarification of the seeds by passage through the digestive systems of birds enhanced germination.


Doll (2006) claimed that, unless killed by human or natural means, plant of R. multiflora live indefinitely, but added that there was no data on how long individual bushes might live. Several authors claim that the seeds can live for 20 years in the soil, but objective proof of this seems to be lacking (Doll, 2006).

Activity patterns

In the USA, R. multiflora flowers from late April through to June, depending on the location. Fruits develop by late summer and often persist until spring (Munger, 2002).


R. multiflora is often a component of early-successional communities on abandoned agricultural or pastoral lands. It is associated with very many other species of plants, depending on where it occurs. Munger (2002) presenteds a long list of communities or ecosystems in North America where R. multiflora may occur.

Environmental requirements

R. multiflora a grows best on deep, fertile, well-drained but moist uplands or bottom-lands; however, it  has wide edaphic limits, and that its growth is fair to good even on relatively adverse sites such as eroded claypans in central Missouri and southern Illinois, USA (Eckardt and Martin, 2001, citing Wyman, 1949 and Steavenson, 1946). The same author reported that growth was poorest where the topsoil has been removed entirely and the subsoil is an impervious drab plastic clay or where drought blow-sand is encountered. Fertiliser applications were only moderately useful in promoting growth on poor soils (Steavenson, 1946).

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Megastigmus aculeatus Parasite
Megastigmus aculeatus var. nigroflavus Parasite
rose rosette virus Pathogen Iowa

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Hindal and Wong (1988) reviewed the natural enemies of R. multiflora in North America and elsewhere. Among the fungi attacking the species were Cylindrocladium scoparium and several species of Phragmidium. Bacterial diseases included crown gall (Agrobacterium tumefaciens) and fire blight (Erwinia amylovora). Several nematode species have also been recovered from R. multiflora.

Rose rosette virus has in the past caused serious losses of rose hybrids and some R. multiflora hedges in Nebraska, and has been observed causing serious losses to R. multiflora in Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri, USA. The symptoms include witch’s brooming, altered leaf and floral development and leaf colour reddening.

Of the many insects reported from cultivated roses, only the rose seed chalcid, Megastigmus aculeatus var. nigroflavus, has been reported to damage R. multiflora significantly.

Hindal and Wong (1988) surveyed pests and diseases on R. multiflora growing in West Virginia, USA. No diseases seemed to be having any major impact on the plants and, although they found many insects associated with the species, only five were thought to be damaging the plants: Popillia japonica (Japanese beetle), cicadas, totricid hip borers (Grapolita packerdi), raspberry cane borer (Oberea bimaculata) and the rose seed chalcid. The authors concluded that rose rosette virus (carried by the eriophyid mite Phyllocoptes fructiphilus) was a good option for use as a biocontrol agent, although some of the hip and cane borer insects and rose seed chalcids could also be considered. 

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural dispersal (non-biotic)

Most R. multiflora plants develop from seeds that fall relatively close to the parent plant (Munger, 2002). Plants can also spread locally to form large thickets by layering, the rooting of stem tips when they contact the ground (Christen and Matlock, 2009).

Vector transmission (biotic)

In the USA, R. multiflora seeds are dispersed by songbirds, such as robins (Turdus migratorius), mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos), starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus), and other species that feed on multiflora rose hips in fall and winter (Ghosh, 2009). Other animals that eat R. multiflora hips include grouse (several species), ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo), chipmunks (various species), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), opossums (various species), coyotes (Canis latrans), black bears (Ursus americanus), beavers (Castor canadensis), snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus), skunks (various species), mice (various species) and cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus spp.). Seeds pass rapidly through digestive tracts and remain intact, and digestion stimulates germination (Lincoln, 1978, cited in Ghosh, 2009).

Bird dispersal may explain the abundance of multiflora rose plants in places where birds are likely to perch, such as along fencerows, wooded corridors, forest edges and roads (Christen and Matlack, 2009).

Accidental introduction

Accidental introduction of R. multiflora is unlikely, but further escapes of the species from cultivated rose rootstocks are quite feasible.

Intentional introduction

R. multiflora has already been distributed to many of the states of the USA for rootstocks, soil stabilisation and as hedgerows. It was widely used as a rootstock for horticultural roses in other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Escape from confinement or garden escapeRoot-stock, and planted as a hedge and for conservation Yes Yes Munger (2002)
Hedges and windbreaksRoot-stock, and planted as a hedge and for conservation Yes Yes Munger (2002)
Intentional releaseRoot-stock, and planted as a hedge and for conservation Yes Yes Munger (2002)
Landscape improvementRoot-stock, and planted as a hedge and for conservation Yes Yes Munger (2002)

Impact Summary

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Environment (generally) Positive and negative


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Where it has become widely established, R. multiflora is considered to have serious adverse effects on both agricultural and natural ecosystems (ISSG, 2013). It can spread rapidly, severely restricting access to pasture and recreational areas with impenetrable thickets (Munger, 2002). Because it can occupy many different habitats it affects a wide number of different plant species.

Economic Impact

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R. multiflora invades pasture areas, degrades forage quality, reduces grazing area and agricultural productivity and can cause severe eye and skin irritation in cattle and other livestock (ISSG, 2013). It also forms large and impenetrable thickets that make livestock mustering difficult and sometimes uncomfortable for both people and horses.

Environmental Impact

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R. multiflora grows well in savannas, open woodlots and on the edges of forests. It can also colonise gaps in late-successional forests when birds drop seeds in light gaps (ISSG, 2013). It is unlikely to be a long-term invasion threat in undisturbed dense forest, however, because it will eventually be shaded out by taller-growing trees and shrubs (Munger, 2002). 

Risk and Impact Factors

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  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Increases vulnerability to invasions
  • Modification of fire regime
  • Negatively impacts forestry
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Reduced native biodiversity
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition - smothering
  • Competition - strangling
  • Produces spines, thorns or burrs


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Economic value

R. multiflora has been of considerable value to the horticultural industry because it has provided the rootstock for many kinds of grafted roses, as well as having been one of the parents of many rose hybrids. In the 1930s in much of North America it was very valuable to farmers as a soil stabiliser and as hedges, and was widely adopted for soil conservation (Eckardt and Martin, 2001; ISSG, 2013). It is also used as a stock for budding and grafting New Zealand and the cooler climates and neutral or acid soils of south-eastern Australia (New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia) (OGTR, 2002; Webb et al., 1988).

Social benefit

Rose hips are collected and used in preserves and other food, and also in herbal preparations. The fruit is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, C and E, flavanoids and other bio-active compounds (PFAF, 2013). It is also a fairly good source of essential fatty acids, and has apparently been investigated as a food that may reduce the incidence of cancer and serve as a means of halting or reversing the growth of cancers.

According to PFAF (2013), the leaves can be poulticed and applied to sores; the fruit is anodyne, diuretic, hypoglycaemic and laxative as well as being antidotal to fish poisoning. The seed is laxative and diuretic and the root rich in tannins.

Hedges of R. multiflora have also been used along highways in the USA as crash barriers and to reduce headlight glare.

Environmental services

Many birds and mammals, both introduced and native, utilize the fruits of R. multiflora. Grouse, ring-necked pheasants, wild turkeys, waxwings and American robins eat the hips (Munger, 2002). Leaves and hips are eaten by chipmunks, white-tailed deer, opossums, coyotes, black bears, beavers, snowshoe hares, skunks and mice; and leaves, twigs, bark and fruit are eaten by cottontail rabbits, especially during autumn and winter. The hips are of high nutritional value. The plants themselves are used as shelter and refuge at all times of the year by cottontail rabbits, white-tailed deer, pheasants and mice, and are a preferred nesting site for gray catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis).

Uses List

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  • Agroforestry
  • Boundary, barrier or support
  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Land reclamation
  • Shade and shelter
  • Wildlife habitat


  • Sociocultural value

Detection and Inspection

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In New Zealand many specimens are almost or completely thornless due to artificial selection, although some wild plants have prominent prickles (Webb et al., 1988). In contrast, in North America, Doll (2006) reported that the easiest way to distinguish R. multiflora from nearly all the wild roses is its large size and the fact that it is one of the ‘thorniest’ of roses.

The stipules at the base of the leaf petiole are feathery in nature and are characteristic of R. multiflora.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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In North America there are three native roses that resemble R. multiflora: prairie rose (R. setigera Michx.), swamp rose (R. palustris Marsh.), and Arkansas rose (R. arkansana Porter.) (SE-EPPC, 2013). R. setigera is distinguished from R. multiflora by longer, trailing and arching stems, larger white flowers (2-3 cm) in a pyramidal inflorescence and smaller fruit. R. palustris is distinguished from R. multiflora by its shorter height (2 m) and solitary flowers, and R. arkansana has stems densely covered by slender, straight thorns and is much shorter overall, being rarely over 1 m.

R. multiflora var. cathayensis has pink flowers 40 mm in diameter, as opposed to the white flowers 15-20 mm in diameter of R. multiflora var. Multiflora (Herbiguide, 2013).

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Physical/mechanical control

Established plants can prove difficult to control and the vigorous root system can make mechanical removal of control by burning challenging. When clipped to a height of 7.5 cm every two weeks during the growing season, plants took two years to kill (Bryan and Mills, 1988). Even so, regular repeated mowing or cutting of individual plants, especially at the seedling stage, will eventually give effective control. Munger (2002) recommended 3-6 mowings or cuttings a year, repeated for 2-4 years. As with other woody species, painting the cut stems with herbicide can speed up the process.

Biological control

The rose rosette disease, a virus-like organism, has potential as an effective biocontrol agent for R. multiflora, although its use as a biological control agent has been opposed by the American Rose Society and by rosarians in general (Van Dreische et al., 2002). It has, however, been transmitted to target multiflora roses by grafting and by mite releases in Iowa and West Virginia, USA.

Van Dreische et al. (2002) claimed that rose rosette disease is ‘virtually certain’ to greatly reduce the density of R. multiflora, and that the reduced populations left afterwards ‘are likely to be infested by the seed chalcid at the same rate (90 to 95%) as plants in Korea and Japan.’

Chemical control

Munger (2002) lists a number of herbicides used for R. multiflora control, including glyphosate (as a cut-stem treatment), triclopyr (as a cut-stem or basal bark treatment), picloram, fosamine, dicamba and metsulfuron. Application of herbicide to cut stems can prevent resprouting and reduces damage to non-target plants. Some herbicides (triclopyr, picloram and metsulfuron) can be used as foliar sprays applied when fresh spring growth has started. Basal bark application of herbicide to the lower regions of the stem in winter can also be effective. Basal bark and cut-stem treatments are easier to apply when the plants are large with few main stems.

Derr (1989) compared the effectiveness of foliar treatments of metsulfuron and 2,4-D plus dicamba in April (spring) and August (autumn) applications in Virginia, USA. He also used spotgun treatments applying different rates of metsulfuron to the soil in May and August. Foliar-applied metsulfuron gave over 95% control with a spring application, but was less reliable when applied in autumn. 2,4-D plus dicamba also proved more reliable when applied in spring. Spotgun treatments proved slightly less effective than foliar sprays.

Control by utilization

In the same way as repeated mowing or slashing can reduce infestations, periodic grazing, especially of young seedlings, can be effective. Domestic sheep and especially goats will fed on leaves, new buds and new shoots. Goats have been used for effective control of a range of spiny and prickly plants in many parts of the world (Popay and Field, 1996), and Luginbuhl et al. (1999) have demonstrated that they are effective on R. multiflora: in four seasons severe infestations were virtually eliminated.


Perhaps the most important message about controlling R. multiflora is to eliminate the first one or two plants on a property or in an area, preferably before they mature and produce seed (Renz and Drewitz, 2008). Strongly competing ground cover of grass or other low-growing vegetation will help to suppress new seedlings, and fairly regular grazing with sheep or goats will also help to kill any newly emerging seedlings. Any plants that establish should be controlled with herbicide before they can fruit.

Lingenfelter and Curran (2013) suggested planting pasture species appropriate to the climate, soil and field conditions, using suitable fertilisers, mowing regularly and watching out for problem weeds and killing them early. Big, well-established R. multiflora bushes can be pulled out or removed with suitable machinery, but all roots should be removed and the area carefully monitored for any subsequent resprouts or new germination.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Munger (2002) often mentioned the lack of ecological information on R. multiflora: ‘the biology and ecology of multiflora rose are not well-studied. More research is needed to better understand its life-history and other biological traits, habitat requirements and limitations, and interactions with native North American flora and fauna.’


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Atlas of Living Australia, 2014. Atlas of Living Australia.

Bryan WB, Mills TA, 1988. Effect of frequency and method of defoliation and plant size on the survival of multiflora rose. Biological Agriculture and Horticulture, 5(3):209-214

Christen DC, Matlack GR, 2009. The habitat and conduit functions of roads in the spread of three invasive plant species. Biological Invasions, 11(2):453-465.

Derr JF, 1989. Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) control with metsulfuron. Weed Technology, 3(2):381-384

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Links to Websites

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GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS) source for updated system data added to species habitat list.


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16/11/13 Original text by:

Ian Popay, consultant, New Zealand, with the support of Landcare Research.

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