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Sweet Briar

Braided River Status

Widespread, see the distribution map (when page opens, just click on the green ‘search’ button without changing any of the settings)

Description

Sweet briar (Rosa rubiginosa), a member of the rose family, is a deciduous, erect, occasionally dense, woody shrub that can grow from 3-5m tall with stout branched roots that often sucker. Many arching stems grow from the base, with unequal, flattened, downward-pointing, curved thorns. Apple-smelling leaves are hairless dull-green above, hairy below, and divided into 5-9 narrow-oval leaflets (12-40 x 8-28mm). Clusters of 1-3 pink (or bright pink with whitish base) rose-like, 5-petalled flowers (25-40 mm diameter) appear from November to January (first image), followed by prominent, egg-shaped, shiny red or orange-red rose hips (12-22 x 10-18mm) from February to May (second image).

Sweet briar in flower

Sweet briar in flower

Why is it a problem?

  • Long-lived seeds
  • Spread is also by suckers
  • Tolerates drought, hot to very cold temperatures, wind, low fertility, and most well-drained soils
  • Tolerates being grazed 
  • Forms dense, long-lived stands in tough, open habitats, inhibiting or preventing the seedlings of native species from establishing
  • Can alter riverbeds, causing flooding. Requires moderate to high light levels, and invades only open sites
  • Escapes from gardens
Sweet briar showing rosehips, invading braided riverbeds

Sweet briar showing rosehips, invading braided riverbeds

How is it spread?

  • Seeds by wind and water
  • suckers

Conservation activities

More information

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