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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
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.