Monday, May 28, 2012

Rosa Multiflora

It's the time of year for an especially nasty invasive plant to start flowering.  During a walk the other day I noticed Rosa multiflora beginning to bloom.  The delicate white flowers, with a fantastic scent, were just opening on some plants while others were fully engaged.  The arching canes form dense hiding areas for all kinds of wildlife and in the late summer and winter the hips are food for birds.  It's such a shame that this plant is so invasive.  Unfortunately, Rosa multiflora was once promoted as the perfect hedge plant.  Yes, it will form impenetrable stands of thorny canes and become an excellent barrier.  The seeds are highly successful when it comes to germination.  Further, where canes touch the ground they will eventually root in and sprout new plants.  The plant was also used as root stock when grafting certain roses to make them hardier.  Die back would occur and the root stock would survive to vex the gardener in the future.

My personal experience with this invasive began at my parent's house.  This annoying rose bush kept turning up all over the yard.  My father would assault it with clippers and a shovel only to be confronted with the same plant the very next year.  They were nothing if not tenacious.  One year, so vexed by a plant growing too near a shed foundation, my father poured gasoline on it.  He'd pruned it back and tried to dig out the main stems and roots with a shovel but discovered it was growing beneath the concrete slab of the shed.  With one match, the remaining shrub was engulfed and quickly the stems blackened.  Success was had that day.  Well, just that day, the plant managed to survive the experience, shrugging off the flames and sending out bright green growth a few weeks later.  Eventually, this particular plant was defeated through the use of larger clippers that sliced through the main stem of the plant--and perhaps the judicious use of a saw or axe. 

The constant battles with this plant were fairly epic as seeds germinated just about anywhere.  I'm sure they would have come right up through pavement if given the option.  I have no idea where the original plants came from probably a gift from some bird.  As invasives go, this one ranks right up there with Oriental Bittersweet with me.  Annoyingly difficult to remove, speedy growth, and the habit of turning up in secret, unlikely places makes this invasive especially...well...invasive.  If it should turn up in your yard, remove it as quickly as possible.

Recommended Plant:
Magnolias are common spring trees that offer up amazing flowers each spring.  There is one variety, native to the United States, that is a bit more subtle and flowers during summer.  Also known as Sweetbay Magnolia, the small tree Magnolia virginiana is a great addition to the garden.  They have waxy leaves, new growth that is grey/green, and creamy white flowers that smell like gardenias or vanilla.  It's a fairly durable plant with few pests or disease issues.  This plant is especially nice when planted next to a patio; it will offer some shade as it grows and the scented flowers should be close to where they can be enjoyed.

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