Have you seen this plant in your landscape? Do you think it’s pretty with its numerous spring flowering white flowers? Well, think again! This is the Multiflora Rose, and here in New England it is considered a highly invasive species.
The multiflora rose is a thorny perennial shrub that can reach over 15 feet high and 10 feet wide. These shrubs have thorns so sturdy they have popped holes in our lawn mower’s tires. The long canes of the shrub will weave their way up, through and over any plant or trees in their way as they reach towards the sun. This extremely aggressive shrub will quickly take over an area to the point of becoming almost unmanageable in one growing season.
When the long thorny canes touch the ground, they will root and sprout new plants. Birds will eat the seeds that appear in summer, and will spread them everywhere they go allowing the shrub to establish itself in new areas.
I am a nature and birding enthusiast, and I do appreciate that some invasive plants have benefits for the local fauna, and that is the case here. This plant offers secure shelter for birds and other small animals who can fit inside the labyrinth of thorny canes to make their homes and hide from predators.
As we come into Spring and the plant life starts greening up, this is one of the earliest plants to begin leafing out, which gives it a head start growing and taking over an area and is the best time to tackle removing this plant as it’s easy to identify, easier to access, and the birds have yet to begin nest making.
The easiest way to get rid of this shrub is to use an herbicide. To be safe, use a tarp to protect surrounding plants, or use a piece of cardboard as a barricade around the rose to keep the spray contained. Never spray on a windy day. I typically cut the plant back as much as possible to leave smaller sections to spray. If the plant is very large and the canes are thick, you can cut it back at the base and apply the herbicide directly on the cut sections. Follow up within a couple weeks to check for any new growth and spray again if needed.
If you have areas you want to leave this plant for the benefit of the wildlife or as a screening, I suggest you keep it contained and trimmed back from the ground and from areas where you mow your lawn or walk.
As with any springtime shrub or tree removal, please check for any bird activity and nests before you begin. If you find a nest, just trim the plant away the ground to prevent new sprouting, and come back in the summer or fall after the nest has been vacated.
You can find out more about this plant and the best type of herbicide to use at the UNH Cooperative Extenstion. Click Here for more information.