Woods’ rose (Rosa woodsii), Truckee River. Photo: K. Fitzgerald.
- Grows in dense thickets, 3-10 feet tall.
- Leaves: Serrated edges, 5-9 leaflets per leaf stalk.
- Stems: Reddish, thorny.
- Flowers: Sweet smelling pink flowers (May-July) with 5 petals.
- Fruit: Round fruits called “rose hips” mature to a dark red after the first frost.
Woods’ rose is fairly flood tolerant, able to survive one to three months of flooding by allowing its roots go dormant – an important adaptation for any shrub rooted into a river bank. Its flowers are pollinated by insects, and seeds are dispersed by birds and mammals. The seeds of Wood’s rose form a seed bank in the soil, and remain viable for up to 16 years (Hauser 2006).
People of the Washoe Tribe called this plant the “pat sur malle”, and used the roots to make a rose-colored tea, as did the Paiute, whose traditional name for this plant is the “tsiavi”. The inner bark was used to make a yellow-colored dye (Murphey 1959; Reed 1962). Rose hips (the fruit of the rose) are high in Vitamin C, and can be collected in the fall and eaten raw, cooked, or brewed into a tea. To collect rose hips, wait until after the first frost when they ripen to a full dark-red color (Moore 2003; Thompson 1972).
References & Links
Hauser, A. Scott 2006. Rosa woodsii. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [2015, March 6].
Moore, M. (2003). Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West (Revised and Expanded Edition ed.). Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press.
Murphey, E. V. 1959. Indian Uses of Native Plants. Fort Bragg, CA: Mendocino County Historical Society.
Reed, F. 1962. Uses of Native Plants by Nevada Indians. Carson City, NV: Department of Education, State of Nevada.
Thompson, S. A. 1972. Wild Food Plants of the Sierra. Berkeley, CA: Wilderness Press.
USDA Plants: Woods’ Rose. http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=rowo