Rosa arkansana (Prairie Rose)
|Also known as:||Wild Rose|
|Life cycle:||perennial woody|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; fields, prairies, along roads, edges of woods|
|Bloom season:||June - July|
|Plant height:||6 to 40 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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1 to 4 flowers typically form at tips of new, ground shoots and occasionally at tips of second year lateral branches of older woody stems. Flowers are 1½ to 2 inches across with 5 broad, rounded petals with wavy edges often notched at the tip. The color can range from nearly pure white to deep rose pink and often strongly bi-colored. Numerous yellow stamens surround the shorter styles in the center. The sepals are narrow lance-like, ½ to just under 1 inch long, rounded at the base, the outer surface smooth. Flower stalks are smooth.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are alternate and compound with 9 to 11 leaflets, occasionally 7. Leaflets are ¾ to 1¼ inches long and ½ to ¾ inch wide, generally elliptic or widest above the middle (obovate), rounded or blunt at the tip, with serrated edges except at the base. Leaf stalks are ½ to just over 1 inch long and hairy. 2 wing-like appendages (stipules) are at the base of the stalk, and sometimes have a few scattered glands around the edge of the tip end. Upper leaf surface is dark green and hairy to smooth, the underside light green and hairy.
First year flowering stems are green turning red the following season, mostly simple, typically spreading to ascending. Lateral branches are produced on older woody stems and are weak and often don't flower. Both first and second year growth bear stiff, slender bristles of unequal size.
Prairie Rose establishes from seeds distributed by wildlife (typically birds) that have consumed its nourishing fruit. Once established, they spread out from underground rhizomes, often forming colonies. Above ground stems rarely persist for more than a few years before dying back to be replaced by new shoots. All three of Minnesota's native roses appear very similar at first glance. Two primary indicators for R. arkansana identification are its preference for open, sandy prairie and small size which rarely gets over 18 inches and more often just 10-12 inches. Like Prickly Wild Rose (Rosa acicularis) it has prickles on both new and old growth but it lacks the glands found on the leaf stalks of the latter, and their natural ranges barely overlap along a NW to SE line through central Minnesota. Prickly Rose is also a rather taller plant. Smooth Wild Rose (Rosa blanda) shares the range of R. arkansana throughout the state, but as it name suggests, Smooth Rose lacks bristles on its new growth—it's a mid-sized to tall shrub whose bristly, woody stems persist producing showers of flowers for many years.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Prairie Rose plant
- Prairie Rose habitat, with Butterfly-weed
- deep rose colored flower
- near white flower
- pink striped flower
Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka, Dakota and Wabasha counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?