Multiflora rose establish themselves in dense, impenetrable thickets, and can be found in a variety of ecosytems. By developing this way, they prevent wildlife movement and displace native wildlife. They out-compete with native plants for sunlight and nutrients. With their ability to tolerate a wide range of environmental factors, they often thrive in and disrupt pasture ranges. These plants are a prominant nuisance for agriculture by degrading forage quality, reducing available grazing areas, and have also been seen to cause severe eye and skin irritation in cattle. The seeds of the Multiflora rose are resilient and can remain viable for up to 20 years in soil. Native birds, including grouse, pheasants, turkeys, and mockingbirds, favor the rose hips of this plant and ingest the seeds inside. These birds aid in the transport and further establishment of Multiflora rose to new locations.
Native to Asia, the Multiflora rose was brought to the United States as a rootstock species for grafting other ornamental roses. Starting in the 1930's, these plants were widely utilized as living fences to confine livestock, and were vastly planted to prevent erosion. Multiflora rose has been more recently used along highway median strips as crash barriers and to reduce automobile headlight glare.
Rosa multiflora is a perennial shrub that typically grows to be between 1.8 to 3 meters tall, and is notable for its small white flowers that bloom in May or June. They have multiple arching stems that vary between green to red in color. Stiff, arching thorns are found along the length of the stems.The leaves of this plant are about 1-1.5 in. long, and compound with an average of 7-9 leaflets. They are oblong and have serated teeth along the edge of them. Small, red rose hips that are found on the plant persist through the winter.
Multiflora rose was once widely advocated to plant for a variety of reasons, but today is a New York prohibited plant and may not be sold, imported, purchased, transported, introduced or propogated in the state. It is widespread throughout the Lower Hudson Region. It forms inpenetrable thickets in fields, pastures, and forest edges.