This deciduous native rose is a nearly thornless alternative to the invasive multiflora rose. Blanda is derived from the Latin word for “charming,” which is an apt description for the pleasingly fragrant, deep-pink flowers with yellow centers that bloom June through August. The shrub grows 2 to 7 feet tall and spreads vigorously by suckers to form broadly rounded, bushy hedges. Also known as meadow rose and early wild rose, it is distinguished from other meadow roses by its stems, which are smooth and thornless except at the base. It performs best in sunnier sites with moist, well-drained soils, but it can tolerate dry, nutrient-poor habitats and will adapt to a variety of soil types.
The most-effective pollinators of roses are bumble bees and other long-tongued bees. One reason bees flock to native roses is for the simple and open structure of the five-petaled flowers that make it easy for bees to find protein-rich pollen for rearing their young. Green metallic bees, syrphid flies, and beetles also pollinate the flowers.
Native habitats include dry, open woods; hills; prairies; roadsides and disturbed habitats; shores of rivers and lakes; and, occasionally, wetlands. Even without thorns, smooth rose makes a great privacy hedge. Prune carefully as flowers appear on new wood from the previous year’s buds that grow on lateral branches.
Grows 2-7’ tall. Spreads by rhizomes and seed.
Grows in full sun to part shade.
Prefers moist, well-drained soils, but adapts to dry, rocky, sandy, and clay soils.
Pink flowers grow singly or in a cluster of up to five on the tips of new branches of older stems. Petals are broad, rounded, and wavy edged with occasional notches at the tips. Numerous yellow stamens and anthers surround shorter styles and a central column of yellow pistils. Globular rose hips are 1/2 – 3/4” in diameter and contain several seeds.
Alternate and compound leaves have 5-9 serrated leaflets 1-1 ½” long. Upper leaf surface is dark green with scattered hairs, and the underside is light green and variously hairy. A stipule of two wing-like appendages is attached to the base of the stalk.
New stems and branches are green and thornless, becoming woody and reddish brown to purple. Older, lower stems have scattered bristly prickles of uneven lengths. The bark is thin and smooth, becoming rougher with age.
Wild roses host 114 species of Lepidoptera larvae, including two specialist moths and Polyphemus, crocus geometer, and cecropia moths. Many insects feed on the foliage, flowers, and other parts of wild roses. The fleshy bright red rose hips are eaten by a wide variety of animals, such as rodents, skunks, and birds.
Rose plants provide nesting materials for native bees and cover for birds and small mammals.
Medicinal, Edible, and Other Uses:
The dried rose hips are extremely high in vitamin C and are used to treat diabetes, arthritis, itching, indigestion, and even cancer. The blooms, which have been used to treat heartburn, are edible and contain compounds that help support the immune system. The roots are used as a wash for inflamed eyes and as a treatment for headaches and low back pain.
Native Americans dried the rose hips to use for teas, soups, and stews. The fruit is high in vitamins and minerals such as A, B-3, D, and E; flavonoids; tannins; and zinc. It’s a good source of essential fatty acids. The thin flesh of the fruit may be used to make jam, syrup, or tea, but care is advised because a layer of hairs around the seeds can cause irritation to the mouth and digestive tract. The flowers may be used in cakes and desserts or made into rose water.
The rose hips are also used in the cosmetics industry.
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