Rosa woodsii (Wood's Wild Rose)

Plant Info
Also known as: Wood's Rose
Family:Rosaceae (Rose)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist to dry; woodland edges and clearings, meadows, prairies, riverbanks
Bloom season:June - July
Plant height:3 to 6 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 flower] 1 to 10 (typically 2 to 4) flowers at the tips of new lateral branches of older woody stems. Flowers are 1½ to 2½ inches across, pale to deep rose pink with 5 broad, rounded petals often notched at the tip. Numerous yellow stamens surround the shorter styles in the center. The sepals are narrow lance-like, 3/8 to ¾ inch long, rounded at the base, the outer surface usually glandular. Flower stalks are smooth to sparsely hairy.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate and compound with 5 to 9 leaflets, frequently 7. Leaflets are ½ to 1¼ inches long and up to ¾ inch wide, usually widest above the middle (obovate), rounded at the tip, slightly tapering or wedge-shaped at the base, with serrated edges except on the lower third to half.

[photo of stipule with gland-tipped teeth] A pair of wing-like appendages (stipules) are attached at the base of the stalk, that may or may not have gland-tipped teeth near the tip. Upper leaf surface is dark green and sparsely hairy, the underside is light green and variously hairy. Stalks are typically silky hairy, sometimes with a few glands and/or sparse prickles.

[photo of branch bark and infrastipular prickles] A pair of large prickles is usually found at the base of a node (infrastipular); additional smaller, slender prickles may or may not be present. Prickles are mostly straight, the larger may be slightly curved. New stems are reddish brown to purplish, older bark becoming gray and rough. Dense thickets may be formed from spreading rhizomes.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit] The berry like fruits (rose hips) are oval to globular, up to ½ inch in diameter, turning bright orange-red to purplish-red in late summer. Inside the hips are several seeds.


Wood's Wild Rose is a variable species with numerous subspecies designations, of which only subsp. woodsii is found east of the Rocky Mountains. It is similar in nearly all respects to Smooth Wild Rose (Rosa blanda), which is the most common of Minnesota's native roses and found throughout the state. Wood's Wild Rose is most easily differentiated by the pair of prickles just below the leaf nodes (infrastipular) and beyond that characteristic there is little difference between these two. Some suggest they are in fact a single species. Minnesota populations, where the western R. woodsii and eastern R. blanda meet, have more intermediate characteristics than populations farther west and some portion are likely hybrids. Wood's Wild Rose is also known to hybridize with Prickly Wild Rose (R. acicularis).

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in North Dakota. Other photos courtesy Jennifer Stewart.


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

Posted by: Annie H - St. Louis Country, near Hibbing
on: 2016-06-27 14:58:47

Small patch of about 6 plants, no more then 4 feet high along railroad tracks between Hibbing and Keewatin.

Posted by: Debbie C - Littlefork
on: 2018-05-07 14:10:26

They are here every year ! The berries are high in nature vitamin C & can be eaten right off the bush ; but a little waxy ! We know these as (Rose Hips)!

Posted by: Madhura S Patil - Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lightouse
on: 2020-07-05 19:55:27

Have seen these wild rose bushes in many places along trails. I had never seen it before so thought evening primrose but looked up online and found that these are wild rose bushes.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2020-07-05 20:24:21

Madhura, while Rosa woodsii was recorded on the north shore years ago, Rosa acicularis is quite common there, distinguished by its densely prickly stems and lacking the pair of large prickles at the nodes. Check it out next time.

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