Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Rose family (Rosaceae). Native subshrubs or shrubs growing 0.2-2(-3) m high, rhizomatous, with shallow, frequently branching fibrous roots, sometimes forming nearly impenetrable thickets; stems reddish-brown to gray, with straight or slightly curved prickles. Leaves are deciduous, alternate, odd-pinnately compound, leaflets 5-7(-11), obovate to ovate or elliptic, ca. 1.5-3(-4) cm long, finely toothed toward the tip. Flowers occur on branches lateral from the old wood, 10-20 cm long, few in a cluster at the stem tip, less commonly solitary; petals 5, (10-)15-25 mm long, pink to lilac-pink, or lavender; sepals lanceolate, 1-2 cm long, erect and usually persistent, tomentose on the margins and inner surface. Fruit is a fleshy, red, globose to ellipsoid “hip” 5-12 mm wide, derived from the base of the sepals and petals; nutlets 15-35, 3-4 mm long. Named for Joseph Woods, 1776-1864, an early English student of roses.

Variation within the species: many variants have been described, and the species now includes many roses previously described as species. The following varieties are sometimes now recognized (Cronquist & Holmgren 1997) but they are combined as a single variable species by others (e.g., Ertter 1993 in The Jepson Manual).

Rosa woodsii var. glabrata (Parish) Cole – CA

Rosa woodsii var. gratissima (Greene) Cole – CA and NV

Rosa woodsii var. ultramontana (S. Wats.) Jepson

Rosa woodsii var. woodsii

Woods’ rose forms natural hybrids with R. acicularis Lindl., R. arkansana Porter, R. blanda Ait., and probably others.

Woods’ rose is recognized among many similar species of rose by its combination of shrubby, thicket-forming habit, stems with straight prickles, and leaves and sepals without glands.

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Alternative names

Common wild rose, wild rose, mountain rose

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Distribution

Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Rosa woodsii var. ultramontana (S. Watson) Jeps.:
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63110 USA

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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Rosa arizonica Rydb.:
Mexico (Mesoamerica)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Adaptation

Woods’ rose is commonly a dominant species on riparian and wetland sites, but it is adapted to a broad range of moisture conditions. It is common in various regions as a pioneer on disturbed sites, especially along roadsides and south-facing cutbanks. It occurs on bluffs, dry grassy slopes, prairie sandhills, and in clearings in boreal and subalpine forests or sometimes as an understory species in stands dominated by cottonwood, ponderosa pine, and Douglas fir. Moderate shade-tolerance allows it to persist as an understory species in mid-seral to climax communities; at elevations of 800-3500 meters. Flowering June-August; fruiting August and into the fall, the hips remaining on the plant through the winter.

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Widely distributed over western North America, from Ontario and Manitoba, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa, south to Texas and northern Mexico, west to California and Alaska through every other western state and province. Var. woodsii (see below) occurs in Alaska and Yukon but no other provinces or states bordering the Pacific; var. ultamontana is the far-western entity, sometimes regarded as including var. glabrata (California endemic) and var. gratissima (California and Nevada). For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Physical Description

Type Information

Isotype for Rosa lapwaiensis H. St. John
Catalog Number: US 1654700
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): H. St. John, W. W. Eggleston, C. English & G. N. Jones
Year Collected: 1925
Locality: Flat by Lapwai Creek, Spalding., Nez Perce, Idaho, United States, North America
  • Isotype: St. John, H. 1937. Fl. Southeast. Wash. & Idaho. 208.
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Isotype for Rosa pyrifera Rydb.
Catalog Number: US 239145
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Card file verified by examination of alleged type specimen
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): J. H. Sandberg
Year Collected: 1892
Locality: Pend D'oreille Lake., Bonner, Idaho, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Rydberg, P. A. 1917. Fl. Rocky Mount. 445,1062.
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Type collection for Rosa pecosensis Cockerell
Catalog Number: US 660892
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Card file verified by examination of alleged type specimen
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): T. Cockerell
Locality: Pecos., Reeves, Texas, United States, North America
  • Type collection: Cockerell, T. D. A. 1904. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia. 1904: 110.
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Isotype for Rosa rotundata Rydb.
Catalog Number: US 509790
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): A. A. Heller
Year Collected: 1912
Locality: Mts. west of Franktown., Nevada, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Rydberg, P. A. 1917. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club. 44: 76.
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Isotype for Rosa arizonica Rydb.
Catalog Number: US 334205
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): D. T. MacDougal
Year Collected: 1898
Locality: Vicinity of Flagstaff., Arizona, United States, North America
Elevation (m): 2134 to 2134
  • Isotype: Rydberg, P. A. 1918. N. Amer. Fl. 22: 516.
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Isotype for Rosa chrysocarpa Rydb.
Catalog Number: US 765208
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Status verified from secondary sources
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): P. A. Rydberg & A. O. Garrett
Year Collected: 1911
Locality: Southeastern Utah, Allen Canyon, southwest of Abajo Mountains., Utah, United States, North America
Elevation (m): 1800 to 2000
  • Isotype: Rydberg, P. A. 1917. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club. 44: 74.
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Ecology

Dispersal

Establishment

Woods’ rose produces flowers and fruits at about 2-5 years of age. Good crops are usually produced every 2 years. Birds and mammals eat the fruits and disperse the seeds in droppings. The seeds remain viable for 2-5 years, and after warm or cold stratification, they germinate within 30 to 40 days. Woods’ rose also reproduces through rhizomes, root crown sprouts, and layering. Establishment for ornament or rehabilitation is from transplants, hardwood cuttings, and direct seeding.

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: T4 - Apparently Secure

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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status and wetland indicator values.

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Management

Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

These plant materials are readily available from commercial sources. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”

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Fire of low- to moderate-severity typically top-kills Woods’ rose, but sprouts from root crowns and rhizomes enable it to persist or even increase. The shallow root crowns are injured by severe fire and populations consequently may decrease in vitality and abundance. Reproduction from seed is rarely observed after fire, and seedling growth rate in a burned area may be slow.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Uses

Wildlife: Fruits of Woods’ rose are a good source of energy and protein and are eaten by many animals, including squirrels, deer, coyotes, and bears. Many birds and mammals are sustained by the persistent dry hips when the ground is covered with snow. The plants are browsed by livestock and big game from spring through fall, but the young spring leaves are especially palatable. Porcupines and beavers also browse the leaves. Thickets formed by Woods’ rose provide nesting and escape cover for many birds and small mammals.

Conservation: The rhizome system makes Woods’ rose effective in erosion control, and the species has been used to revegetate disturbed sites along road cuts, streambanks, and seeps. Plants are used as ornamentals near homes to attract birds and other wildlife.

Ethnobotanic: Native Americans used the roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits of Woods’ rose for foods and therapeutic materials. The hips are a source of vitamin C and are dried for use in flavoring teas, jellies, fruitcakes, and puddings. The inner bark and roots were boiled to treat diarrhea and stomach aliments and a tea was made from the bark to treat muscles.

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