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Private Enemy No. 2

Close behind the oriental bittersweet on my list of unwanted plants is the multiflora rose bush (rosa multiflora). It was introduced in 1886 from China, Korea, and Japan as a rootstock for ornamental roses and then promoted by the federal government in the 1930s as a living fence for farmers and as a source of food and shelter for wildlife. It quickly escaped its bounds and now is endemic in much of the eastern United States. The rose rosette disease has begun to affect the plant, but the spread of the disease is slow and it is not officially supported as a means of control. There is also a species of wasp that arrived with seed from Japan in 1917 that deposits its eggs in the seeds and consumes them, thus slowing the spread of the plant. Some experts estimate that 90% of the multiflora rose in West Virginia is affected by the wasp, so it is likely that the wasp will spread to Southwest Virginia in the near future, if it hasn’t already done so.

Here is a picture of the business portion of the plant, taken by James H. Miller:

Multiflora Rose.jpg

I wore a long-sleeve shirt, a long-sleeve flannel shirt on top of that and leather gloves and I was able to get in close to many large rose plants and cut the stems at ground level. I noticed that since the last time I did this, the deer had browsed the new green shoots. For once, I was happy to have deer on the property! They are so numerous in Floyd County that they are very much “rats on stilts”, as a friend once called them. But in this case, I’ll take any help that I can find! Once the plants are dead, they disintegrate quickly. Controlling multiflora rose is no easy task, though, because new plants spring up from the roots as far away as 50′ from the mother plant. The plant thrives in sunlight, so the fact that I have opened up the forest is going to create problems for me. But one step at a time. Fortunately, multiflora rose does not grow that rapidly.

1 Comment on “Private Enemy No. 2”

  1. #1 Beth
    on Nov 24th, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    We have right much of the multiflora rose, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem so far, other than one that’s threatening a dogwood tree. And it does look pretty in the spring when it blooms. But we’re keeping an eye on it to make sure it behaves. I’m glad to hear that there’s a wasp that helps to control it.

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