Multiflora Rose

TreatmentRosa multiflora

Images of this species:

Common look-alikes:



Rosa multiflora is a multistemmed, thorny, perennial shrub that grows up to 15 feet tall. The stems are green to red arching canes which are round in cross-section and have stiff, curved thorns.


Leaves are pinnately compound with 7-9 leaflets. Leaflets are oblong, 1-1.5 inches long and have serrated edges. The fringed petioles of Rosa multiflora usually distinguish it from most other rose species.


Small, white to pinkish, 5-petaled flowers occur abundantly in clusters on the plant in the spring.


Fruit are small, red rose hips that remain on the plant throughout the winter. Birds and other wildlife eat the fruit and disperse the seeds.


This is considered a watch list species.


The plant was originally brought to the US as rootstock for ornamental roses in the 1800s, then promoted as “living fences” in the 1930s, and encouraged as wildlife enhancement in the 60s.


Man-made or disturbed sites, meadows and fields, shores of rivers or lakes, shrublands or thickets

Life Cycle

Multiflora rose reproduces primarily by seed, a single plant can carry up to 1 million in a year. The seeds remain viable in the soil for up to 20 years. These perennial plants will also sprout from existing roots season after season. Leaves appear very early in spring, and flowers begin to bloom in June. Fruits develop in late summer and remain on the plant through winter. Multiflora rose can also reproduce by layering – when stem tips touch the ground and take root.

ecological threat

  • Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) can form impenetrable thickets that exclude native plant species.
  • Birds eat the fruits and disperse the seeds which are still viable after passing through the digestive tract.
  • Arching canes that reach the ground can take root and form new plants.
  • This plant has a wide tolerance of soil, moisture, and light conditions. It has the ability to thrive in dense woods, open fields, prairies, pastures, and is readily found along stream banks and roadsides. 
  • Seed bank can remain viable for 10-20 years creating the need for a long-term management plan.

Management Options

Mechanical Control

Young plants can be pulled by hand. Frequent, repeated cutting or mowing at the rate of three to six times per growing season, for two to four years, has been shown to be effective in achieving high mortality of multiflora rose. In high-quality natural communities, cutting of individual plants is preferred to site mowing to minimize habitat disturbance.

Chemical Control

  • Be careful not to damage or kill nearby native plants when conducting management work.
  • Always read and follow pesticide label directions. Application of pesticides may require a certification from the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. The Agency website provides information on what applicator certification is needed.

Cut stump - Cut the plant 4 inches above the ground.  Use a drip bottle to apply an 18-21% glyphosate solution to the stump within one hour of cutting.  This is best done in late summer through winter when plants are transporting resources to their root systems.

Low volume foliar spray - This method is used for dense populations and best left to a contractor. Thoroughly wet all leaves with an herbicide in water with a surfactant as follows: while in bloom—Escort* at 1 ounce per acre (0.2 dry ounces per 3-gallon mix); Aug-Oct—Arsenal AC* as 1% solution (4 oz per 3-gallon mix) or Escort* at 1 oz per acre (0.2 dry oz per 3-gallon mix); May-Oct—repeated applications of a glyphosate herbicide as a 2% solution in water (8 oz per 3-gallon mix), a less effective treatment that has no soil activity to damage surrounding plants. In order to avoid drift to native plants, spray only on calm days.


photo credit

Multiflora Rose flower, 5473560, Rob Routledge, Sault College,

Multiflora Rose leaf and stem, 5473559, Rob Routledge, Sault College,

Hypanthia or hips, 0002060, James W. Amrine Jr., West Virginia University,

Flowering plant in May, 0016089, James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service,

Bristled margins on petiole, 0016092, James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service,

Immature fruit (hips), 0016094, James H. Miller & Ted Bodner, Southern Weed Science Society,

Carolina rose flowers, 1391103 & 1391104, John D. Byrd, Mississippi State University,

information credit

Center for Invasive Species and Forest Health, Multiflora rose

GoBotany, Multiflora rose