Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Rosa rugosa
(rugosa rose)



Rosa rugosa (rugosa rose)


  • Last modified
  • 22 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Rosa rugosa
  • Preferred Common Name
  • rugosa rose
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Rosa rugosa is native to temperate and cold coastal areas of East Asia, but was introduced to Europe and North America as an ornamental plant, for use as a rootstock and breeding with other Rosa spp., and for its resistance to di...

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Rosa rugosa, showing foliage and fruits (rose hips). Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK. 21st October 2010.
TitleFoliage and fruit
CaptionRosa rugosa, showing foliage and fruits (rose hips). Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK. 21st October 2010.
Copyright©A.R. Pittaway
Rosa rugosa, showing foliage and fruits (rose hips). Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK. 21st October 2010.
Foliage and fruitRosa rugosa, showing foliage and fruits (rose hips). Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK. 21st October 2010.©A.R. Pittaway
Rosa rugosa, showing foliage and a ripe fruit (rose hip). Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK. 21st October 2010.
TitleFoliage and fruit
CaptionRosa rugosa, showing foliage and a ripe fruit (rose hip). Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK. 21st October 2010.
Copyright©A.R. Pittaway
Rosa rugosa, showing foliage and a ripe fruit (rose hip). Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK. 21st October 2010.
Foliage and fruitRosa rugosa, showing foliage and a ripe fruit (rose hip). Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK. 21st October 2010.©A.R. Pittaway
Rosa rugosa, close-up of a ripe fruit (rose hip). Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK. 21st October 2010.
CaptionRosa rugosa, close-up of a ripe fruit (rose hip). Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK. 21st October 2010.
Copyright©A.R. Pittaway
Rosa rugosa, close-up of a ripe fruit (rose hip). Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK. 21st October 2010.
FruitRosa rugosa, close-up of a ripe fruit (rose hip). Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK. 21st October 2010.©A.R. Pittaway


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Rosa rugosa Thunb., 1784

Preferred Common Name

  • rugosa rose

Other Scientific Names

  • Rosa ferox Lawrence
  • Rosa pubescens Baker

International Common Names

  • English: Japanese rose; Ramanas rosa
  • French: rosier du Japon; rosier rugeux
  • Chinese: bai-kwai-kwa; mei gui; paihuaihua

Local Common Names

  • Canada: wrinkled rose
  • Denmark: Rynket rose
  • Estonia: kurdlehine roos
  • Finland: kurtturuusu
  • Germany: Kartoffel- Rose; Kartoffle-Rose; Runzel- Rose
  • Iceland: gardaros
  • Japan: hamanashi; hamanasu
  • Korea, Republic of: haedanghwa; hae-dang-wha
  • Latvia: rievaina roze
  • Lithuania: rauksletalapis ersketis
  • Netherlands: roos, rimpel-
  • Norway: rynkerose
  • Poland: roza pomarszczona
  • Russian Federation: rosa morshchinistaya
  • Sweden: ros, vres-
  • UK: beach rose; beach tomato; potato rose; Ramanas; Romanas rose; rugosa; rugose rose; saltspray rose; sea tomato
  • USA: beach rose; beach tomato; potato rose; Ramanas; Romanas rose; saltspray rose; sea tomato; Turkestan rose

EPPO code

  • ROSRG (Rosa rugosa)

Summary of Invasiveness

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Rosa rugosa is native to temperate and cold coastal areas of East Asia, but was introduced to Europe and North America as an ornamental plant, for use as a rootstock and breeding with other Rosa spp., and for its resistance to diseases and salinity. It has escaped from captivity and is proving a problematic invasive weed especially in dunes and coastal grasslands along northern European shorelines. It often forms dense stands due to creeping rhizomes from which suckers arise, and it can eliminate native vegetation.

Taxonomic Tree

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

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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There are 105 species of Rosa recorded in USDA-ARS (2009), and Rosa rugosa lies within the Cinnamomeae section. The binomial Rosa ferox was used earlier but is now treated as a synonym. Bruun (2005) also includes Rosa kamtchatica and Rosa regeliana as synonyms, however, USDA-ARS (2009) and others note Rosa x kamtchatica Vent. as a separate entity, with R. rugosa var. kamchatica (Vent.) Regel as a synonym, and this is assumed to be derived from a hybrid between R. rugosa and either Rosa davurica or Rosa amblyotis. What is certain is that with interbreeding species in sympatric native ranges, widespread introduction of exotic species into the native ranges of other Rosa spp., and a great deal of selection and breeding, it is still somewhat surprising that the taxonomy is not more confused.


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The following is taken from Bruun (2005), as it was the most complete of the several descriptions viewed.

Rhizomatous multi-stemmed erect deciduous shrub, strongly suckering, with mature clones forming impenetrable thickets. Rhizomes woody, with orange-brown cortex and triangulate scale leaves. Rhizome branches and suckers emerge from axillary buds subtended by scale leaves. In addition, suckers may arise from buds on the roots. Stems erect, sometimes arching, to 1.5(-2) m, often much branched, tomentose when young, densely prickly. Cortex light yellowish brown. Prickles subulate, slender and straight, of all sizes down to acicles. Larger prickles tomentose, at least near the base, and usually glabrous in the apical part.

Leaves alternate with (5–)7–9 leaflets contiguous on the rachis. Leaflets nearly equally sized, 2–5 1.5–3 cm, leathery and robust, widely elliptical, acute, with broadly cuneate or rounded base. Adaxial side dark green, conspicuously bullate or rugose, rather shiny. Abaxial side green-grey, tomentose to pubescent, with sessile pale glands, and with reticulate nervation. Leaf margin bluntly and simply crenate-serrate, involute, edge of teeth often deflexed. Petiole and rachis densely pubescent, and with many unequal subulate prickles. Stipules pale green, densely pubescent, 2.5 × 1–1.5 cm, divergent, the free part broadly ovate or deltoid.

Flowers usually solitary or few together, 6–9 cm across, fragrant, nectarless. Sepals 2–3 cm, entire, with a broad, expanded tip, appressedly pubescent, aciculate and glandular (sometimes with stipitate glands), erect on the hip, persistent. Petals five, bright purplish-pink, sometimes white (R. rugosa f. alba (Ware) Rehder). Stamens 200–250 per flower, and styles often more than hundred. Styles pilose; stigmas in a large, domed head, sunk in the narrow, concave disc; disc 2.5–4 mm across; orifice large, at least half the diameter of the disc. A hypanthium (hip) encloses the achenes. It is depressed globose, 1.5–2 cm long and 2–2.5 cm wide, with a distinct neck below the sepals, dull green to orange when unripe, becoming glossy and brilliant red when ripe, most often smooth. Pedicel of the same length as the hip, tomentose, often with gland-tipped acicles, erect in flower, curved in fruit so that the hip points downwards.

Achenes with a woody-bony pericarp enclosing the seed. Achenes broadly ovoid, obtusely angular, 4.0–6.0 mm long and 2.0–2.6 mm wide and 1.8–2.2 mm thick, with a distinct suture on both ventral and dorsal sides, hilum basal. Achene surface more or less lustrous, orange-brown. Mean seed (achene) mass is 6.6 mg. The albumen is oily.

Plant Type

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Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated


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R. rugosa is native to east Asia, from the Russian Far East in the north, including Kamchatka (to 55°N), Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands, Khabarovsk and Primorye, to northern Japan, including Hokkaido and Honshu (to 35°N) in the south, also the Korean Peninsula and northeastern China, including eastern Jilin (Hunchun Xian), coastal Liaoning and islands, and eastern Shandong (Yantai Shi), where it is classified as an endangered species due to over-harvesting (Bruun, 2005).

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: 12 May 2022
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes


JapanPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
North KoreaPresentNative
South KoreaPresentNative


AustriaPresentIntroducedFirst reported: <1880
BulgariaPresentIntroducedOriginal citation: Baldzhieva and Popova (1983, recd. 1985)
CzechiaPresent, Few occurrencesIntroduced
EstoniaPresent, LocalizedIntroduced
Faroe IslandsPresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced
FinlandPresent, WidespreadIntroduced
GermanyPresentIntroducedFirst reported: 1900s
IcelandPresent, Few occurrencesIntroduced
LatviaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
LithuaniaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
MoldovaPresent, Few occurrencesIntroduced
NetherlandsPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
RussiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Central RussiaPresentIntroduced
-Northern RussiaPresent, WidespreadIntroduced
-Russia (Europe)Present
-Russian Far EastPresentNative
SlovakiaPresentIntroducedFirst reported: 1992. First reported in wild: 1995
SloveniaPresent, Few occurrencesIntroduced
SwitzerlandPresent, Few occurrencesIntroduced
United KingdomPresentIntroduced1917

North America

CanadaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroduced
-New BrunswickPresentIntroduced
-Newfoundland and LabradorPresentIntroduced
-Nova ScotiaPresentIntroduced
-Prince Edward IslandPresentIntroduced
Saint Pierre and MiquelonPresentIntroduced1981
United StatesPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-New HampshirePresentIntroduced
-New JerseyPresentIntroduced
-New YorkPresentIntroduced
-Rhode IslandPresentIntroduced
-West VirginiaPresentIntroduced


AustraliaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-South AustraliaPresent, LocalizedIntroducedAdelaide
New ZealandPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalised

History of Introduction and Spread

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The first records of R. rugosa being introduced to Europe are from 1796, from Japan, but only after 1845 did it become more abundant, with an increasing interest in it as an ornamental species and thus more widespread planting during the late 1800s and the early 1900s. The first records of naturalization in Europe are: Germany in 1845, Denmark in 1875, Sweden in 1918, Finland in 1919, Lithuania in 1937, and Norway in the 1940s, and only recently in Poland as it was introduced much later, in 1960 (Weidema, 2006). However, dates offered by Bruun (2005) differ in part, e.g. that the first introduction to Germany took place in 1854, in Denmark in 1845, and the naturalizations in Sweden were in 1928-9, but also adding that naturalization in the UK was first observed around the same time, in the 1920s, and elsewhere in the eastern Baltic in the 1930s (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Finland). R. rugosa was first introduced into the Netherlands from Japan during 1829-66 by Philipp F.B. von Siebold and quickly became naturalized (Christenhusz et al., 2001).
Following initial introduction as an ornamental, a ‘lag-time’ is apparent, for example of 30 years in Denmark, and over 100 years cited by Bruun (2005). Other naturalizations occurred at the same time as introduction, e.g. in Norway, as the species arrived spontaneously, apparently along the coast on sea currents. R. rugosa has now been recorded as an established garden escape in many European countries between the latitudes 46°N and 68°N, including, in addition to countries already mentioned above, also Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Ireland, Moldova, Russia (European), Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine, although it is only found occasionally in some, e.g. Austria, France and the Czech Republic. For more information and a map of presence in Europe, see Bruun (2005), though some additional records have been found, e.g. for Bulgaria (Baldzhieva and Popova, 1985).
Introductions to North America began at the same time, with 1845 cited for both Canada and the USA (Bruun, 2005; Royal Botanical Gardens Canada, 2009). In the USA, it was first reported as naturalized far from cultivation on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts in 1899, and was described as ‘straying rapidly’ only 10 years later, and is today naturalized on the whole Atlantic coast of New England (Bruun, 2005). In Connecticut, it is regarded as potentially invasive, but is not banned or legislated (USDA-NRCS, 2009), and has undergone invasive species assessments in other states of New England though it did not meet all the criteria and as such is not included in lists of invasive species in Massachusetts and Rhode Island for example, whereas it is naturalized and spreading. In the USA, it is probably more widespread than indicated in the distribution list, with unconfirmed plantings in Oregon, northern California and Mississippi, at least.
Only two records were located in the southern hemisphere, one in Adelaide, South Australia, though again, noting its widespread availability on Australian ornamental plant websites (e.g., it is probably more widespread than indicated in the distribution list, noting unconfirmed reports from commercial nursery websites and from private gardeners, in Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania and Western Australia. It is also recorded as ‘wild, exotic, naturalized’ in New Zealand by Landcare (2009) though without any specific locations or supporting information.
As examples of the rate of spread, from aerial photographs of a coastal heath in Denmark, Didriksen (1999; cited in Brunn, 2005) observed that R. rugosa had spread from a few clones to a more or less contiguous area of 3.5 ha in less than 50 years, most likely by means of clonal growth. In southern Sweden, R. rugosa is invading aggressively (Milberg, 1998), and a comparison of vascular plant flora data on the southern archipelago of Goteborg between 1904-1911 and the 1990s, found R. rugosa the most widespread of the new exotics recorded, also recorded on the shores of many of the smaller islands (Herloff, 2003). In Norway, R. rugosa is thought to have first arrived on the south coast by means of seed dispersal with sea currents, and continued spreading north by the same means as far as Lofoten in northern Norway, some 1300 km away, within only 40 years (Fremstad, 1997). It is threatening native species especially on the south coast, but is also becoming increasingly common in inland areas on roadsides, wasteland and other disturbed areas (Fremstad, 1997).


Risk of Introduction

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R. rugosa is still very widely available as an ornamental species world-wide, and it is highly likely that it will be introduced further afield. Hybrids including R. rugosa are also available, or roses that use R. rugosa as a rootstock, and thus it may even be introduced unknowingly. R. rugosa is only occasionally recorded in the southern hemisphere, and areas at particular risk would be those in similar latitudes (i.e. below 35°N), such as South America below a line between Santiago (Chile), Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Montevideo (Uruguay), New Zealand and southern Australia. Especially at risk ecologically would be oceanic islands that lie in the same belt, notably the Falklands, Tristan de Cunha, and the Crozet and Kerguelen island groups, though many other isolated and/or uninhabited islands are also threatened. For example, as R. rugosa is for sale on a number of Australian and New Zealand ornamental plant websites, further planting and subsequent spread in those countries may be considered likely.


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In summary, R. rugosa is a predominantly coastal species, on dunes, grasslands and heathlands but also in coastal woodlands. It does, however, grow in inland areas, and is also found in agricultural areas, boreal forest, disturbed areas, grasslands, heathlands, riparian zones, temperate broadleaf forest and urban areas. Particularly, open dry grasslands as well as heathlands, especially with bare patches, are probably endangered by R. rugosa invasion (Isermann, 2008).
In its native range, R. rugosa grows on sandy or gravelly beaches as well as in dune grassland communities, but is only one component of a species rich shrub zone between open dune grassland and landward dune forest, and in its introduced range it is found in similar habitats (Bruun, 2005). In Norway, Finland and Denmark, it also forms dense thickets in a variety of other seashore habitats; on sandy, gravelly or stony shores and isolated shrubs, found just above the upper reach of winter storms on rocky shores, in drift walls and sand-dunes, and in the transition between shores and neighbouring vegetation types, such as species-rich dry meadows. As a very hardy species, it also has the potential to grow further to the north along the coast and further into the valleys in southern Norway (e.g. Fremstad, 1997). In addition, it also occurs in open habitats such as roadsides and railway sidings, and disturbed urban and rural areas, and in Poland it is also found in dry meadows, shrublands and forest edges (Weidema, 2006).


Habitat List

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Terrestrial ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Principal habitat Natural
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ManagedUrban / peri-urban areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ManagedBuildings Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalScrub / shrublands Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalScrub / shrublands Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
LittoralCoastal areas Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
LittoralCoastal areas Principal habitat Natural
LittoralCoastal dunes Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
LittoralCoastal dunes Principal habitat Natural

Biology and Ecology

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R. rugosa, along with another invasive rose R. multiflora, are both diploid (2n=14) ancestral species of modern ornamental roses (Fernandez-Romero et al., 2001).
Bruun (2005) undertook a detailed literature review of hybridization, finding that in its native range R. rugosa hybridizes with R. davurica (syn. R. amblyotis), with R. marretii which is its closest relative, with R. acicularis and with R. multiflora (= R. × iwara, syn. R. ×yesoensis). The hybrid with R. davurica, often called R. × kamtchatica, probably arose spontaneously in southern Kamchatka, where R. rugosa occurs on the coast and R. davurica in the central highlands.
Under cultivation, cultivars and hybrids with several other Rosa species have been reported and some are also observed in nature (Bruun 2005). Two synthetic hybrids have been found as escapes from cultivation, i.e. a hybrid with R. majalis (= R. × majorugosa) in Finland and European Russia, and one with R. nitida (= R. × rugotida) in Sweden. In Germany, a hybrid between R. rugosa and R. mollis is known from Geltinger Birk (Weidema, 2006), andR. rugosa × multiflora has been reported as an escapee. In the UK, R. rugosa has formed spontaneous hybrids with R. canina (= R. × praegeri), R. mollis (= R. × mangii) and R. caesia. The hybrids have probably escaped through the dumping of garden rubbish, however, as they are generally unable to produce viable seeds (Bruun, 2005).
In North America, spontaneous hybrids with the native rose species R. carolina (= R. × koehneana) and R. palustris (= R. × spaethiana) have been reported; however, only the former has been verified (Bruun, 2005). In coastal New England, USA, R. rugosa has been found to hybridize with the native R. blanda, and the risks of genetic swamping have been raised (Mercure and Bruneau, 2008).
Reproductive Biology
R. rugosa has hermaphroditic flowers which are insect pollinated and mainly cross-pollinated, although self-fertilization has been reported to take place under experimental conditions (Bruun, 2005). The importance of insects as pollinators for this species has been observed directly on the Faroe Islands, as wasps introduced in 2000 markedly increased the seed production of R. rugosa (Weidema, 2006). The seeds or achenes of R. rugosa are encased in large rose hips that are fleshy and very tasty to animals, birds, mammals and humans, with a mean number of 62 per fruit (range 20-120) found in wild populations in Denmark (Bruun, 2005). R. rugosa also reproduces vegetatively and very effectively by rhizomes (Weidema, 2006).
Physiology and Phenology

In China, R. rugosa flowers in May-June and fruits in August-September (Cuizhi and Robertson, 2003), and in the UK, flowering occurs in June-July, which is similar to its flowering period in northern Hokkaido (Bruun, 2005). Baldzhieva and Popova (1985) present data on the date of onset and duration of the main growth phases in six forms of R. rugosa grown for fruit production in Bulgaria, with a range of flowering period of approximately 1-4 days, and fruit ripening periods of 7-17 days.
The establishment of R. rugosa is seed-limited in European coastal dune habitats, but it is able to establish in both active and fixed dunes once seeds have arrived, and by measuring seedling emergence and growth, Kollmann et al. (2007) found that habitats differ in their degree of invasion susceptibility by R. rugosa. The positive influence of small-scale disturbance suggests microhabitat limitations, and as such dune management should aim to reduce seed production and dispersal of R. rugosa in near-natural sites, and avoid any anthropogenic changes of habitat dynamics.
The normal rooting depth of R. rugosa in sand dunes is 0.5-1 m, occasionally down to 2 m, but it is sensitive to flooding and waterlogged soils, so when found in dune slacks it often forms a root mat in the shallow upper soil horizon not subjected to waterlogging. R. rugosa is though, very tolerant of frost, soil salinity and salt spray, and moderately drought tolerant.
In coastal dunes, R. rugosa occurs in diverse habitats, from unstable yellow dunes with Ammophila arenaria, short grasslands of grey dunes with Phleum arenarium, Agrostis tenuis and Corynephorus canescens and shrublands of Hippophaë rhamnoides, to stabilized brown dunes with a heathland of Empetrum nigrum or Calluna vulgaris (Isermann, 2008). It has been observed that the vegetation complexes R. rugosa prefers in coastal areas of northern Europe and northeastern North America are markedly similar in composition to those found in its native range.
Its establishment in yellow dunes is supported by arbuscular mycorrhizae, which occurs in Ammophila species (Weidema, 2006).
Environmental Requirements
Climatically, R. rugosa prefers cold to temperate climates, and has been reported to tolerate temperatures as low as -50°C though this has not been confirmed. Often being coastal, it also prefers higher humidity levels, and it tolerates sea winds, salt spray and soil salinity, and is moderately drought tolerant.
R. rugosa occurs in a broad range of soil conditions. A relationship between the soil pH and growth was shown in Danish dunes, the tallest plants were found at relatively low pH (Weidema, 2006). R. rugosa most often occurs, however, in sandy or gravelly soils and occasionally on other well-drained substrates, but it appears to be absent from highly acid soils. In Denmark it is found on soils of pH 4.7-7.7, and in Japan, on a topsoil of pH 5.1-7.6 with pH at 45–50 cm depth being 5.4-8.5 (Bruun, 2005).
In its native range, R. rugosa mainly inhabits coastal areas at low elevations <100 m); however, where introduced, it has been recorded as naturalized up to 200 m altitude in Norway (Fremstad, 1997), and up to 435 m in Wales, UK (Bruun, 2005).


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Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)
Ds - Continental climate with dry summer Preferred Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)
Dw - Continental climate with dry winter Preferred Continental climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
70 35 0 0

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • saline
  • sodic

Notes on Natural Enemies

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A wide range of more or less specialized herbivorous insects is associated with the genus Rosa, and R. rugosa confirms this, although it is generally more resistant to attacks by many insects than most other wild species, and certainly most cultivars. Also, few, if any, insect species are strictly monophagous on R. rugosa, even in its native range. An extensive list of pests and diseases found on R. rugosa is provided by Bruun (2005) from a variety of sources.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)

In Norway, it arrived on the southernmost coast around 1940, probably as a result of long-distance dispersal by sea currents (most of the early finds are from uninhabited islets), and also in Finland and Denmark it has been reported to occur on uninhabited islands where human dispersal is unlikely (Fremstad, 1997). R. rugosa hips were found to be extraordinarily buoyant and could float up to 42 weeks (over 9 months) in both fresh water and seawater, after which time they disintegrated revealing the seeds inside. The seeds were also buoyant for several weeks afterwards on their own, due to special tissues in their cell walls, and fruit and seed were much more buoyant than in other rose species examined (Jessen, 1958; in Weidema, 2006), showing that this was a particularly well-adapted dispersal mechanism for this species. Also, generally, the subsequent sowing of these achenes under garden conditions showed no reduction in germination.
Vegetative spread by root-borne and stolon-borne suckers is the main form of propagation once established; however, and no direct observations on the levels of recruitment from seed under natural conditions are available (Bruun, 2005). Its long rhizomes ensure local dispersal, breaking off in exposed areas and after transportation, e.g. by water, new individuals may establish themselves from minor rhizome pieces (Fremstad, 1997; Bruun, 2005).
Vector Transmission (Biotic)

Instances of seed dispersal of R. rugosa by birds have been reported from several countries (Fremstad, 1997; Bruun, 2005). Seeds dispersed by resident birds may not be transported far from the seed source, but this mode of dispersal could be important in explaining local transport. In Finland, fruits ripen just when many migratory birds start moving southwards, and the thrush (Turdus spp.), greenfinch (Carduelis chloris) and bohemian waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) may carry seeds to distant islands where they rest before flying over the sea (Weidema, 2006). Bird dispersal appears more important than mammal dispersal though both are expected. Bruun (2005) has undertaken a thorough review of literature on known and potential bird species as dispersal agents, mostly larger birds such as those belonging to the thrush, pigeon and gull families, also grouse and pheasants, with smaller birds considered as much less effective for dispersal. Seeds are spread in faecal and vomit pellets, which may also be reingested by other birds or small mammals and spread further. Germination is generally enhanced after digestion. Mammals that are known to consume the fruit hips include hares, mice, foxes and voles, and others may disperse seeds when making winter caches (Bruun, 2005).
Intentional Introduction

This has been the principal means of long distance introduction, with plants introduced from the native range, commonly Japan, to Europe and North America, and now further afield, mostly for ornamental purposes directly, or as rootstock or for plant breeding purposes. However, R. rugosa is also commercially cultivated for its hips, and grown for erosion control, thus introduction for these means may also have occurred. It continues to be widely available as an ornamental plant thus further introduction is highly likely.

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Floating vegetation and debrisTo Norway and along coast Yes Yes Fremstad (1997)
Plants or parts of plants Yes Yes Fremstad (1997)
WaterTo Norway and along coast Yes Yes Fremstad (1997)

Impact Summary

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Cultural/amenity Positive
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Human health Positive

Environmental Impact

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In Belgium, R. rugosa was seen to increase concentrations of exchangeable essential nutrients under its canopy, most strikingly so for potassium and manganese, and enhanced nitrogen dynamics in invaded sites, partly due to higher net primary productivity in exotic invasive plants compared to native vegetation (Vanderhoeven et al., 2005). Thickets of R. rugosa were seen starting dune formation, thereby substantially altering the physical habitat (Jessen, 1958, in Weidema, 2006).
Environmental conditions changed with the development and spread of R. rugosa, also changing the species composition of the invaded vegetation, with species richness, especially of herbaceous plants, decreasing with increasing cover (Isermann, 2008). In addition, dominated plots have a higher percentage of neophytes and a lower number of native species than areas not invaded. Also of interest, is that in comparison to its native range, R. rugosa establishes in various plant communities in a wider range of environmental conditions, and thus it appears to have a wider environmental tolerance in its introduced range (Isermann, 2008).
In Europe, the effects of R. rugosa on native flora and fauna are generally negative, by reducing the number of native species present at the invaded sites, displacing natural flora of beach and dune vegetation affecting both common and rare species (Fremstad, 1997; Milberg, 1998). Thickets of R. rugosa are species-poor, irrespective of the dune type in which the shrub established. The strong reduction of the species diversity is caused by the shading effect of R. rugosa (Isermann, 2005).
Typical dune species like Arenaria serpyllifolia, Empetrum nigrum, Festuca rubra ssp. arenaria, Galium mollugo, Poa humilis, Veronica arvensis, Viola tricolor as well as mosses and lichens decline. R. rugosa outcompetes other species like R. pimpinellifolia, on coastal sites in Denmark, and the invasion of R. rugosa presents a threat to populations of the rare Silene otites and Dianthus carthusianorum, which occur in these grasslands (Weidema, 2006). Some native plants at risk of being lost in Norway from R. rugosa invasion are Gentianella amarella subsp. septentrionalis, Dactylorhiza incarnata subsp. incarnata and Epipactis helleborine (Bredesen, 2005). When the local plant life is displaced the animal species that depend on these plants are also threatened, such as butterflies that lay eggs only on certain coastal plants.
R. rugosa was observed to hybridize with the native R. blanda in northeastern USA, and Mercure and Bruneau (2008) confirmed the level of introgression by the use of molecular markers. They concluded that such hybridization could ultimately lead to the genetic assimilation of R. blanda in mixed populations, and to the formation of invasive hybrid genotypes, a phenomenon that is of ecological concern.
R. rugosa in Canada is a new host for the introduced leaf galler Diploleppis polita, which normally occurs only on R. acicularis (Shorthouse, 1987), and may thus act as a reservoir for this pest species.

Social Impact

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R. rugosa is a nuisance to tourists visiting beaches and to coastal landowners, as it forms impenetrable thickets, the stems being covered with sharp thorns. Dead branches still covered with thorns remain on the ground for many years when sprayed with herbicides or when cut, and plants will also often coppice vigorously (Weidema, 2006).

Risk and Impact Factors

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  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Altered trophic level
  • Changed gene pool/ selective loss of genotypes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts tourism
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Soil accretion
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Hybridization
  • Rapid growth
  • Produces spines, thorns or burrs
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult/costly to control


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Economic Value

As a valuable ornamental and widely traded, R. rugosa is likely to have a significant economic value, though this would be difficult to quantify separately from other Rosa spp. The commercial fruit production in some eastern European countries also confirms that it certainly has some positive financial contributions to rural economies. In many countries, R. rugosa was also introduced as a crop plant for production of herbal medicine. R. rugosa was already cultivated for perfume in China almost a thousand years ago, and is still much cultivated today, e.g. in the mountains of southern China. In northern China, R. rugosa cv. plena, with violet-red flowers, is widely grown for essential oil and the flowers are also used medicinally. Thirty components were identified in the oil; the major compounds were beta-citronellol, geraniol, geraniol acetate, citronellyl acetate, methyl eugenol and linalool (Wu et al., 1985).
In Europe, R. rugosa also has culinary uses in preserves, jelly and wine production, also the floral scent is used in perfumes and body care products, and extracts of the flowers or hips have also been used in herbal medicines and vitamin products (Weidema, 2006). Fruits have a high content of biologically active substances suitable for the food and pharmaceutical industries (Popova and Baldzhieva, 1979). Two new Bulgarian varieties are recommended for hip production including ‘Nektar’, bred from R. rugosa, and the chemical composition of the hips of these varieties is respectively: dry matter 36-40 and 15-20%, total sugars 7-15 and 28-46%, organic acids 1.7-2.4 and 0.95-1.64% and vitamin C 1100-2000 and 3200-5050 mg/100 g (Dmitrov et al., 1980).
Social Benefit

The strain of R. rugosa from which the excellent ornamental rose Rugosa Ottawa was derived, originated from seeds collected at Abashiri, Hokkaido, Japan. Rugosa Ottawa combines high levels of mite, insect and disease resistance, including resistance to Tetranychus urticae, Chaetosiphon fragaefolii, Diplocarpon rosae and Sphaerotheca pannosa (Svejda, 1984). R. rugosa is also considered a useful plant in its own right with large and attractive flowers (Weidema, 2006), and it is also a common plant for landscaping such as roadsides and in cities (Weidema, 2006). One UK nursery site ( also observes that the thorns make it a useful ‘burglar-proof’ hedge! It is also seen to have a positive effect on tourism, for example on the German Isle of Sylt it is regarded as a typical plant of the landscape, also called the ‘Sylt-Rose’ and it is also found in tourist brochures and on postcards in Denmark.
Environmental Services

With its highly developed root system, it has also been used for soil protection and erosion control, e.g. in Bulgarian mountain fields and Dutch and Lithuanian coastal dunes (Vassileva and Kiprovski, 1982; Bruun, 2005), and as a hedge and windbreak (Weidema, 2006).


Uses List

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  • Amenity
  • Boundary, barrier or support
  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Landscape improvement
  • Revegetation
  • Windbreak

Genetic importance

  • Gene source

Human food and beverage

  • Fruits


  • Alcohol
  • Cosmetics
  • Essential oils

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore


  • Christmas tree
  • Cut flower
  • garden plant
  • Potted plant
  • Propagation material
  • Seed trade

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Despite the many cultivated varieties of the species, those that have naturalized and become invasive in Europe tend to be very similar to the wild type. However, some naturalized clones may be confused with R.× hollandica (syn. R. kamtchatica), although this differs morphologically from R. rugosa by having soft-textured, dull leaflets, without prominent veins, less prickly stems, conspicuously glandular sepals, and smaller flowers and hips (Bruun, 2005).
Many other Rosa spp. are recorded as invasive, thus care must be taken in the correct identification of the species concerned. For example, R. multiflora is probably the most widespread invasive rose, and to complicate matters further, it is also known by the same common name, Japanese rose, as R. rugosa. R. multiflora has smaller flowers (up to 3 cm only), and fruits less than 1 cm.


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.


Cultural control and sanitary measures
Grazing as a control method is possible where R. rugosa is invading an area that has previously been grazed, and goats are the only animals that seem to be able to graze R. rugosa enough to control it efficiently. Grazing provokes vigorous regrowth by rhizomes, and very heavy grazing is necessary, which may often also negatively modify the natural plant community (Weidema, 2006).
In Hokkaido, Japan, the use of burning was found to only enhance regrowth (Bruun, 2005).
In the USA, a number of native roses have been suggested as alternatives to R. rugosa, including R. carolina (Carolina rose), R. virginiana (Virginia rose) and R. acicularis (prickly wild rose) (Cullina, 2003).
Physical/mechanical control

Mowing of R. rugosa stands twice or three times a year for two years appeared to reduce plant vitality, but only in the short term, whereas a larger-scale use of excavator and riddles to remove all rhizomes from the soil is very drastic and costly, and still requires subsequent digging of resprouts from root fragments (Bruun, 2005). The most efficient method for removing R. rugosa is physical whole plant removal, though it must be ensured that all roots and rhizomes have been removed, and repeat treatments are essential (Didriksen, 1999, in Weidema, 2006). For small areas this method is preferable, but for larger areas it is effective but labour intensive. In dune areas complete removal from large areas may lead to sand drift, since no other vegetation will be left to cover the sand. Mechanical removal by caterpillar tractors with loading shovel was used on a 500 m long stretch of coastline in Finland, to remove the whole layer of sand where rhizomes were concentrated, followed by a manual removal of remaining rhizomes (Didriksen, 1999, in Weidema, 2006).
Biological control

The biota of herbivorous arthropods and pathogenic microorganisms associated with R. rugosa in its native and exotic ranges was reviewed by Bruun (2005) as an initial step towards the identification of potential agents for biological control in Europe and North America. It was observed that more insect (but apparently not fungal) species attack R. rugosa in its native range than in its exotic range, and that most of the specialized insect and fungal enemies are confined to its native range. However, among the close relatives of R. rugosa in its exotic ranges are many native species, as well as economically important crop plants, and few organisms appear to be narrowly specialized to R. rugosa. Based on the literature, the most promising candidates for biocontrol seem to be the aphids Myzus japonensis and Amphorophora amurensis, the leaf hopper Empoasca ussurica, the tortricid moth Notocelia longispina, the cynipid gall-wasp Diplolepis fukudae, and the rust fungi Phragmidium rosae-rugosae and P. yezoense. A screening programme is suggested, investigating the impact of these organisms on R. rugosa performance, their host specificity and the risk of undesired indirect effects in the ecosystem where agents are released. In addition, demographic studies of the target plant should be integrated to provide guidance for the stage in the life cycle most sensitive to control and, thus, enable selection of the most efficient and safe biocontrol agents (Bruun, 2006).
Chemical control
Treating cut or mown areas with glyphosate has proved effective if repeated, using a brush or weed-wipe on small areas, or knapsack or tractor applicators over larger areas. Even when all above-ground tissue is destroyed, vigorous shoot growth will often re-appear the following year, requiring further treatment, though glyphosate applied in August appears to also damage rhizomes and roots (Bruun, 2005).
Monitoring and Surveillance

In Denmark a brochure has been produced explaining the invasive nature of R. rugosa and warning against using this species outside gardens, directed towards the general public, landscape gardeners, horticulturists, farmers, interest groups and NGOs, and various fact sheets have also been produced in Germany, Finland and elsewhere in central and northern Europe (Weidema, 2006).



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Baldzhieva M, Popova M, 1983, recd. 1985. Some features of phenological development in Rosa rugosa Thunb. Nauchni Trudove, Vissh Selskostopanski Institut "Vasil Kolarov", 28(4):51-57

Bredesen B, 2005. The Jaeren landscape is being spoiled by introduced problem species. Blyttia, 63(2):116-118

Bruun HH, 2005. Biological Flora of the British Isles. No. 239. Rosa rugosa Thunb. ex Murray. Journal of Ecology, 93(2):441-470.

Bruun HH, 2006. Prospects for biocontrol of invasive Rosa rugosa. BioControl, 51(2):141-181

Christenhusz MJM, Uffelen GA van, 2001. Naturalized Japanese plants in the Netherlands, introduced by Von Siebold. Gorteria, 27(5):97-108

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Cullina W, 2003. Alternatives to invasive or potentially invasive exotic species. Alternatives to invasive or potentially invasive exotic species., USA: New England Wild Flower Society, unpaginated.

Dimitrov S, Popova M, Gramatikov D, Boyadzhieva M, 1980. Technology for rose hip production. Ovoshcharstvo, 59(12):26-30

Fernández-Romero MD, Torres AM, Millán T, Cubero JI, Cabrera A, 2001. Physical mapping of ribosomal DNA on several species of the subgenus Rosa. Theoretical and Applied Genetics, 103(6/7):835-838

Fremstad E, 1997. Alien plants in Norway. Japanese Rose - Rosa rugosa. (Fremmede planter i Norge. Rynkerose - Rosa rugosa.) Blyttia, 55(3):115-121

Herloff B, 2003. Floristic changes during the twentieth century in the southern archipelago of Göteborg, SW Sweden. (Floraförändringar i Göteborgs södra skärgard under 1900-talet.) Svensk Botanisk Tidskrift, 97(1):3-14

Isermann M, 2008. Classification and habitat characteristics of plant communities invaded by the non-native Rosa rugosa Thunb. in NW Europe. Phytocoenologia, 38(1/2):133-150.

Kollmann J, Frederiksen L, Vestergaard P, Bruun HH, 2007. Limiting factors for seedling emergence and establishment of the invasive non-native Rosa rugosa in a coastal dune system. Biological Invasions, 9(1):31-42.

Landcare, 2009. Rosa rugosa. Landcare Plants Database. Auckland, New Zealand: Landcare Research, unpaginated.

Mercure M, Bruneau A, 2008. Hybridization between the escaped Rosa rugosa (Rosaceae) and native R. blanda in eastern North America. American Journal of Botany, 95(5):597-607.

Milberg P, 1998. Aggressive invasive species. (Aggressiva invasionsarter.) Svensk Botanisk Tidskrift, 92(6):313-321

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2009. Tropicos database. St Louis, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden.

Popova M, Baldzhieva M(Baljieva M), 1979. Rosa rugosa - a promising new crop plant. B"lgarski Plodove, Zelenchutsi i Konservi, No. 8:30-31

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2009. Flora Europaea, Database of European Plants (ESFEDS). Flora Europaea, Database of European Plants (ESFEDS). Edinburgh, UK: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 2009. Australia's virtual herbarium. Australia's virtual herbarium. Sydney, Australia: Royal Botanic Gardens, unpaginated.

Royal Botanical Gardens Canada, 2009. Invasive plants list. Invasive plants list. Hamilton, Ontario, Canada: Canadian Botanical Conservation Network, unpaginated.

Shorthouse JD, 1987. Gall-inducing cynipid wasps attacking Rosa rugosa. Canadian Journal of Plant Science, 67(4):1227-1230

Svejda F, 1984. 'Rugosa Ottawa', a source for insect and disease resistance in roses. HortScience, 19(6):896-897

USDA-ARS, 2009. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory.

USDA-NRCS, 2009. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center.

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Vassileva T, Kiprovski T, 1982. Erosion control efficiency of a Rosa rugosa plantation. Pochvoznanie i Agrokhimiya, 17(5):123-127

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Wu CS, Wang Y, Zhao DX, Sun SW, Ma YP, Chen J, 1985. The main chemical components of the essential oil from Rosa rugosa Thunb. Acta Botanica Sinica, 27(5):510-515

Distribution References

Bruun H H, 2005. Biological Flora of the British Isles. No. 239. Rosa rugosa Thunb. ex Murray. Journal of Ecology. 93 (2), 441-470.

CABI, Undated. Compendium record. Wallingford, UK: CABI

CABI, Undated a. CABI Compendium: Status inferred from regional distribution. Wallingford, UK: CABI

CABI, Undated b. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI

EPPO, 2022. EPPO Global database. In: EPPO Global database, Paris, France: EPPO. 1 pp.

Kollár J, 2007. The harmful entomofauna of woody plants in Slovakia. Acta Entomologica Serbica. 12 (1), 67-79.

Landcare, 2009. Rosa rugosa. In: Landcare Plants Database, Auckland, New Zealand: Landcare Research. unpaginated.

Malumphy C, Ostrauskas H, Pye D, 2010. New data on the scale insects (Hemiptera, Coccoidea) of southern Lithuania, including ten species new for the country. Acta Zoologica Lituanica. 20 (3), 253-263. DOI:10.2478/v10043-010-0025-4

Seebens H, Blackburn T M, Dyer E E, Genovesi P, Hulme P E, Jeschke J M, Pagad S, Pyšek P, Winter M, Arianoutsou M, Bacher S, Blasius B, Brundu G, Capinha C, Celesti-Grapow L, Dawson W, Dullinger S, Fuentes N, Jäger H, Kartesz J, Kenis M, Kreft H, Kühn I, Lenzner B, Liebhold A, Mosena A (et al), 2017. No saturation in the accumulation of alien species worldwide. Nature Communications. 8 (2), 14435.

Starowicz M, Kanturski M, Junkiert Ł, Wieczorek K, 2015. Aphids (Hemiptera: Aphidomorpha) of the Botanic Garden of the Jagiellonian University, Kraków. Polish Journal of Entomology. 84 (4), 325-338.

UK, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2009. Flora Europaea, Database of European Plants (ESFEDS). In: Flora Europaea, Database of European Plants (ESFEDS), Edinburgh, UK: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

USA, Missouri Botanical Garden, 2009. Tropicos database. In: Tropicos database, St Louis, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden.

USDA-ARS, 2009. Cornus sericea. In: Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), Online Database, Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory.

USDA-NRCS, 2009. Cornus sericea. In: The PLANTS Database, Baton Rouge, LA, USA: National Plant Data Center.

Vanneste J L, Vermeulen M, Lex S, Berger F, 2002. Isolation of Erwinia amylovora from blighted plums (Prunus domestica) and potato roses (Rosa rugosa). Acta Horticulturae. 89-94.

Weidema I, 2006. NOBANIS - invasive alien species fact sheet - Rosa rugosa. In: Database of the North European and Baltic Network on Invasive Alien Species (NOBANIS), unpaginated.

Yovkova M, Petrović-Obradović O, Tasheva-Terzieva E, Pencheva A, 2013. Aphids (Hemiptera, Aphididae) on ornamental plants in greenhouses in Bulgaria. ZooKeys. 347-361.

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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16/04/09 Original text by:

Nick Pasiecznik, Consultant, France

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