Of All the Gall: Part Two

Multiflora Rose: An unstoppable alien invader? Maybe not.

The second part of this tale moves from elm mite galls to this lovely member of the rose family you see here, that bears the innocuous name, Multiflora Rose.

Multiflora is right: a single cane (long arching branch) may bear more than 15000 seeds. And those canes taken collectively can climb 30 feet into the trees at forest edge or clearing, and a single plant can cover 300 square feet or more. And best of all, the canes are armored with stout thorns (do you know your thorns from your prickles from your spines?). Getting rid of the stuff has required nothing short of tanks and flame throwers (or biological warfare.)

And so if your pasture, like so very many in the southeast, is being taken over by this vicious non-native rose, stay tuned for part three. There’s good news for you–unless you love your domestic roses, in which case, you won’t be as happy with part three.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Wow. Who knew (not me!) that grandma’s roses had such nasty, obnoxious relatives. I’m happy for your successful biological warfare, even though I love deadheading and pruning 100 rose bushes in a public garden near my home.