Rosa blanda (Smooth Wild Rose)

Plant Info
Also known as: Smooth Rose, Meadow Rose
Family:Rosaceae (Rose)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Habitat:part shade, sun; dry to moist; open prairie, woodland edges, fence rows, lakeshores, thickets
Bloom season:June - July
Plant height:4 to 7 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals

[photo of flowers] 1 to 4 flowers at the tips of new lateral branches of older woody stems. Flowers are 2 to 3 inches across, pink to deep rose colored with 5 broad, rounded petals with wavy edges, sometimes notched at the tip. Numerous yellow stamens surround the shorter styles in the center. The sepals are narrow lance-like, 2/3 to 1 inch long, rounded at the base, the outer surface usually glandular. Flower stalks are smooth.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate and compound with 5 to 9 leaflets, usually 7. Leaflets are 1 to 1½ inches long and 2/3 to just under 1 inch wide, generally elliptic but often widest above the middle (obovate), usually rounded at the tip, with serrated edges, sometimes just on the tip half. Leaf stalks are 2/3 to about 1 inch long, hairy, with or without scattered glands. A pair of wing-like appendages (stipules) are attached at the base of the stalk, that may have a few glands near the tip. Upper leaf surface is dark green and sparsely hairy, the underside is light green and variously hairy.

[photo of stem] New stems and branches are green and lack prickles, becoming woody and turning reddish brown to darker purple and finally rough gray with age. Upper portions can remain generally smooth; lower stems are covered with persistent, scattered, stiff, bristly prickles of unequal lengths. Loose thickets may be formed from spreading rhizomes.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit] The berry like fruits (rose hips) are globular, ½ to ¾ inch in diameter, turning bright red in late summer. Inside the hips are several light colored seeds.


Smooth Wild Rose is the most common of Minnesota's native roses and found throughout the state. It is differentiated from Prairie Rose (Rosa arkansana) and Prickly Wild Rose (Rosa acicularis) by its lack of prickles on newer stems and branches. There is a fourth native Minnesota rose often referenced—Wood's Wild Rose (Rosa woodsii)—that is mostly differentiated from R. blanda by a pair of prickles just below a leaf node. Beyond that characteristic there is little difference between these two. Recent studies suggest they are in fact the same species, or sufficiently intergraded to make the distinctions nigh impossible. R. blanda and R. woodsii are known to hybridize, which makes distinctions even more difficult.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Aitkin, Chisago, Ramsey, St. Louis and Yellow Medicine counties. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aitkin, Anoka and Big Stone counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Becky - Rochester
on: 2014-06-24 14:50:27

I need to know which kind of rose bushes I have. And if they will grow in the shade.

Posted by: Glen - Burnsville
on: 2014-07-04 21:58:07

I found quite a few of these in Red Oak Park in Burnsville in the Disc Golf course area of the park. One of the roses, the only one still in bloom was along the main paved path going through the course and park. All the rest, along with some other interesting plants, were found along a brushy, woodsy path connecting one of the fairways and the main paved path. If you go to the disc course to botanize, keep an eye out for flying discs -- although I was there early in the afternoon on July 4th and I had the whole course almost to myself with mostly just mosquitoes to contend with.

Posted by: Delayne - Grand Portage
on: 2014-07-10 09:59:08

I have approximately 50 of these roses growing wild in my yard and my driveway.

Posted by: Jackie T. - Pine City
on: 2014-08-30 22:51:53

We have these wild on the road to our house. I only saw it after the blooms were gone and with ripe hips but there are at least 20 of these visible from the road and there is nearly an acre of dense brush behind it.

Posted by: Angela - Hibbing
on: 2014-09-09 12:51:58

Does anyone know if you can use the "hips" of smooth roses for jelly/jam? Rosa rugosa hips are the usual recommendation for jelly/jam, but maybe these would work as well.

Posted by: Melissa - Bemidji
on: 2015-06-21 12:25:17

I saw these along the Paul Bunyan State Trail going south out of Bemidji today.

Posted by: Dylan L - Lino Lakes
on: 2015-06-28 21:20:05

I have some of these growing by the walking path by my house. Going to harvest the hips and plant the seeds next spring.

Posted by: Bruce - Minnetonka
on: 2015-08-01 14:55:56

I was just now able to identify these at the edge of my wooded yard. Easy to mistake them for white sweet clover until you grab the stem. Ow.

Posted by: cheryl - elm creek regional park
on: 2015-08-19 21:53:17

There is a nice one growing on the side of the expert loop of the mt bike trail

Posted by: Larry G E - Grand Portage State Park
on: 2017-07-27 08:45:56

I saw quite a few of them growing along the walking trails in Grand Portage. Where can I find plants or seeds to buy?

Posted by: Carol D - Excelsior
on: 2017-09-04 08:25:24

I planted my rosa blanda two springs ago. It gets morning sun and some afternoon sun. So far it has had 2 blossoms--one each year. The plant is 3 feet high, sending out a few suckers and looks healthy. It is planted in an area with large evergreen trees. Should I just be patient? Move it out? Feed it more? (I fertilized it once in the spring. It gets some compost annually.) Thoughts?

Posted by: Brooke - Duluth
on: 2018-05-14 19:05:19

Will these do okay in dirrect sun? I had them wild by childhood home and reay want to plant by front walkwway but no shade there

Posted by: Aura - Virginia - Iron Range
on: 2021-05-03 07:57:32

Most people don't know that the petals and berries of the Wild Rose is EDIBLE!!!! I've been eating them since I was a child and now in my 50's. They would make a great juice if one knows how They're sweet and mildly rose-like tasting!

Posted by: Peter O. - Afton, MN
on: 2022-05-30 13:46:31

This is a common roadside shrub in partially shaded areas. You don't even notice it until the ditches are filled with beautiful pink flowers for a few weeks each summer.

Posted by: Linda Knapp - Bemidji
on: 2023-04-05 04:11:55

I would like to know more about eating them. What do they like best for fertilizer? Thanks

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-04-05 06:48:05

Linda, native plants don't need any fertilizer, but they do best in the type of soil (sand, loam, clay, etc.) and conditions (sun/shade, dry/moist, etc.) they naturally grow in.

Posted by: dennis marquardt - Northern Wisconsin (oneida county)
on: 2023-05-11 13:33:23

Can I dead head meadow roses for more blossoms?

Posted by: Kate Zvareck - Circle Pines, MN
on: 2023-06-04 23:12:54

I was walking on one of the Lino Lakes wooded trails and stumbled on this stunning flower. It was tucked back in the woods, and I'm so pleased to find out it's a wild rose a how special! I'm going to go visit it again tomorrow :)

Posted by: Andy - Goodhue
on: 2023-10-31 08:33:10

This wild rose volunteers a lot in pastureland near the town of Goodhue.

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