There comes a time in every gardener’s life when she realizes that a plant she has admired is not all it seems to be. Whatever the initial attraction, another side of the plant is discovered, and the gardener decides the relationship must end. I met Rosa multiflora through his fragrance. At this time of the year, the sweet rose fragrance drifts on the air, strong enough to make you hike up into the field until you track it down to a rather unassuming cluster of flowers.Then you look around you, and you realize the field is full of these baby shrubs. And they’re not all babies. There are a few octopus-like giants as well, rooting down at the tip of their arching canes, producing impenetrable thickets.
Former Farm Aid
According to the Invasive Plant Atlas of New England, “From 1930 to 1960 the U.S. Soil Conservation Service advocated its use as a component of living fences and erosion control plans.” If you drive around rural upstate New York this time of year, the rolling hills appear dotted with mashed potatoes served up by a giant’s cafeteria, the rounded forms of mature, ten-to-twelve foot tall multiflora shrubs. All a farmer has to do is turn his back for a year or two, and he’s got a big problem. Do an online search for how to remove rose from pasture and read a couple of entries. I have a friend whose husband grew up on a farm, and he refuses to have roses growing on their property, he has such bitter memories of battling this rose as a kid. To him, a rose is a plant that takes over.It’s a pity he paints all roses with the same broad brush, but this rose does take over. Birds, especially mockingbirds, robins, and cedar waxwings, love the seeds, which can remain viable in the soil for ten to twenty years. A single shrub can produce 500,000 seeds. And when this rose can’t spread out, it will grow up. We have a brushy area by the back corner of the house. I really don’t know why the previous owners didn’t mow this area, but it’s composed of various shrubs and small trees, most of which produce berries that birds eat. There is a multiflora rose in there, but you have to stand way back to see it. The stem at the base of this thing is thicker around than a broomstick. I will get a reciprocating saw and cut it at the base, then keep pruning off the shoots that come up. Eventually I’ll kill it, but that’s only one, and it’s all over our acreage and that of our neighbors.
That’s It. It’s Over.
I’m a little embarrassed to confess that, despite knowing these facts about this rose, I still harbored a fondness for it. That fragrance wafting on the air–I could forgive a lot for that sweet perfume. But then I learned that multiflora rose is host to a mite that transmits Rose Rosette Disease, a virus that first distorts and then kills rose shrubs, not just the multiflora rose but expensive garden roses, too.This disease is fatal to the roses it infects and there is no cure. Not only does the fragrance of multiflora rose waft on the air, but those mites do, too. The best way to protect the roses in your garden is to remove the multiflora roses that are providing a home to that virus-carrying mite. That does it. It’s over. Rosa multiflora must go!
Posted for Wildflower Wednesday, created by Gail of Clay and Limestone, to share wildflowers/native plants no matter where you garden in the blogasphere. “It doesn’t matter if we sometimes show the same plants. How they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most. It’s always the fourth Wednesday of the month!”