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This small shrub is ½-2' tall, branching occasionally. The terete stems are woody and brown below, becoming non-woody and light green above; they are densely covered with fine straight prickles. Alternate compound leaves develop along the non-woody stems; they are 4-5" long, 2½-3" across, and odd-pinnate with 7-11 leaflets. Each compound leaf has a pair of stipules at its base about ¾-1" long; the stipules are light green and smooth along their margins, tapering to a pair of pointed tips. The petioles of the compound leaves are light green to red between their stipules. Individual leaflets are 1-1½" long and about one-half as much across; they are broadly oblong to oblong-obovate in shape and their margins are coarsely serrated. The tips of the leaflets are blunt, while their bottoms are wedge-shaped (cuneate) to rounded. The upper surface of the leaflets is medium to dark green and glabrous, while the lower surface is light green and covered with fine short pubescence. The leaflets are either sessile or they have short petioles less than 1/8" in length. The rachises (central stalks) of the compound leaves are light green to reddish green and they are covered with short fine pubescence. The rachises are also grooved above and rounded below; fine straight prickles along their undersides may, or may not, be present. Flowers are produced from upper stems either individually or in groups of 2-4 on short corymbs (usually the latter). The flowering stalks are light green and glabrous. Each flower is 1½-2" across, consisting of 5 pink petals (rarely white), 5 green sepals, a ring of numerous stamens, a flattened cluster of short styles, and an inferior ovary that is glabrous. The petals are obovate-orbicular in shape; sometimes they are somewhat bicolored with rays of pink on a lighter background. The sepals are narrowly lanceolate and about one-half the length of the petals. The stamens and styles are more or less yellow. The blooming period occurs from late spring to mid-summer, lasting about 3 weeks. Individual flowers last only a few days and they are fragrant. Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by rose hips that are up to ½" across, globoid in shape, glabrous, and bright red at maturity during the late summer or fall. The fleshy interior of each rose hip is rather dry and contains several seeds. At the tip of each rose hip, there persists 5 dried sepals; these sepals are widely spreading. The chunky seeds are about 4 mm. in length. The root system is woody, branching, and rather deep. Sometimes small clonal colonies of plants are produced from underground runners.


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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