Bee-friendly plants series: Rosa multiflora

Rosa multiflora (rambler rose) is full out now, with its multitude of one inch white flowers at the end of each stem. Each flower can become a small roses hip in the fall. The plant can be variously a free standing bush or a climber, clinging to and overtopping an existing plant. It originates in Asia and is considered an invasive species. It grows very fast; I regularly cut it back in early spring and in a few months “It’s six feet high and rising, Momma” and very pretty. Left alone the new growth will become woody next year and the plant will continue to put out new flower-bearing shoots, but not as vigorously as when it has been pruned or is getting started. The stems can attain six to eight feet of growth in a season and tend to flop over by their own weight giving a hedge-like appearance. And it will make a voluntary hedge- colonizing where you don’t mow and where it can catch the sun. Honeybees like it a lot, for the pollen, I think. Many of them were working the bush before noon, but when I went back in the afternoon to re-take my fuzzy pictures, there were none on it. We took a trip to Keji last weekend and the multiflora was evident in Hants and Kings Counties, but less and less so when one turned south in Annapolis County, and not evident at all in Queens and northern Lunenburg on our return route. I speculate that rosa multiflora’s “invasion” is helped by bees and beekeepers – and wildlife. Last October I remember looking out at dusk to the foot of our lawn where a bush had got started in our planted hedgerow and I counted five grouse in one bush chowing down on the hips. The invasion continues. ID factoid: multiflora can be distinguished from natives roses (usually pink) by its large inflorescences (many flowers, many hips) while native rose usually have single flowers on a stem and produce single, larger hips.

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