Dumb Plant Facts with Lise: the shit rose Multiflora

(In fulfillment of day 7 of Words in May)

Multiflora rose — whose Latin name is Rosa multiflora, logically enough — is kind of a shit rose.

A lovely portrait of a shit rose.

It is native to east Asia, but definitely not North America, where it has become wildly invasive.

… if you know me at all, you know I have a bee in my bonnet about the term “invasive,” but my definition of a shitty invasive is “can I find it naturalized in woodlands behind my house?”

And indeed I can. Especially in reclaimed areas, you can find thickets of it and Asiatic bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) intertwined, choking out native plants and doing its shitty best to give me the 3.476 thorn scratches I am required to display after every walk through woods.

Why the heck is it even in this country? It is yet another example of “let’s bring in a non-native plant to help with an ecological problem…. WELL I GUESS THAT BACKFIRED.” The problem was soil erosion; now you have the problem that is UP TO MY EYEBALLS IN SHIT ROSES.

You see it a lot in reclaimed farmlands, where it was used extensively as a cattle brake. Why? This might surprise you, but it turns out that cows don’t like running face first into a wall of thorns.

This is the Wei. My mom had a Chinese exchange student named Wei (first tone, straight line over the “i” in Pinyin). We were trying to figure out what her name translated to; she knew it was a type of flower but she didn’t know the translation in English. So she asked Chinese-language Google, and lo and behold, it means “multiflora rose.”

… it’s an awkward conversation to tell someone they share a name with an invasive species. Usually I only have those conversations with leshy in my Pathfinder games.

The way to tell multiflora rose apart from other, less shit roses? Well, for one thing it has large inflorescences. That’s a botany way of saying “big-ass flowers.” They are usually white, too, and there are lots of them on a single branch.

But my favorite ONE WEIRD TRICK to identifying multiflora rose? The petiole (leaf stalk) looks like a feather:

Behold: a shit rose feather.

In conclusion: multiflora rose: unless you have cattle, absolutely no good will come of having this in your yard.