Virginia Rose

Rosa virginiana


Copyright 2004,, Henry H. and Catherine C. Hartley

Virginia Rose is one of many rose species in our area, including Swamp Rose and Multiflora Rose. Like all roses, Virginia Rose is a shrub, with many spreading branches.

Virginia Rose can grow up to six feet tall. It has hairy stems with curved thorns. Leaves are split into smaller leaflets. Each leaflet is dark green with teeth, up to 2 1/2 inches long. Leaves turn purplish-red in the fall.

Virginia Rose grows in thickets, meadows, clearings, shores, and roadsides.

Copyright, Mark Brand, UConn Plant Database

Tripple Brook Farm

The flowers of Virginia Rose are pink with yellow centers. Each flower has five petals and is 2 to 3 inches wide. This plant blooms from June to August.

Many insects visit rose blooms for nectar, and the plant depends on them to help pollination. Bumble bees, honey bees, and certain beetle species are the main pollinators.

Once flowers have been pollinated, they die, and fruit takes their place. Rose fruits are called "hips." Virginia Rose hips are red and look a lot like a large berry. Rose hips are 1/2 inch wide and stay on the plant through the winter.

Rose hips are a great food source for many animals, including: American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Wild Turkey, Northern Bobwhite, Cedar Waxwig, Eastern Bluebird, American Goldfinch, Northern Cardinal, Brown Thrasher, Song Sparrow, Striped Skunk, and White-footed Mouse.

Rose leaves are eaten by certain species of moths, butterflies, beetles, aphids, leafhoppers, and thrips. Leaf-cutting Bees, Japanese Beetles, and European Earwigs all eat rose leaves. Mourning Cloak and Red-spotted Purple are two butterflies whose caterpillars munch leaves.

Other insects bore into rose stems. These include carpenter bees, some beetle species, and sawflies.

Gall wasps lay their eggs in rose stems. When wasp larvae hatch, they munch on the inside of the stem, causing galls to grow. This makes the wasp a parasite.

White-tailed Deer, Eastern Cottontail, and Beaver all browse (eat leaves and twigs) on rose. Stems are eaten by Meadow Voles.

Tripple Brook Farm

Tripple Brook Farm

Rose thickets create great cover for birds and other animals. Some bird species that nest in Virginia Rose include Northern Mockingbird, Gray Catbird, Northern Cardinal, Brown Thrasher, and Yellow Warbler. Mammals using rose for cover range from small to big, including voles, shrews, squirrels, woodchucks, fox, opossum, and deer. Reptiles, amphibians, insects, spiders, and other small animals can hide among rose branches and leaves also.

Virginia Rose grows quickly and can crowd out other plants.

Powdery Mildew is a parasitic fungus which sometimes affects rose.

Copyright, Mark Brand, UConn Plant Database

Relationships in Nature:

Animals Using as Food Source
Animals Using as Shelter
Associations With Other Plants

Golden Northern Bumble Bee

Mourning Cloak


Golden Northern Bumble Bee Po

Honey Bee

Red-spotted Purple

Red Maple

Honey Bee Po

Japanese Beetle

Gray Catbird

Yellow Poplar

Mourning Cloak Pa

American Robin

Northern Mockingbird


Red-spotted Purple Pa

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Cardinal


Powdery Mildew Pa

Wild Turkey

White-footed Mouse


Northern Bobwhite

White-throated Sparrow

Poison Ivy

Cedar Waxwing

Eastern Cottontail

Virginia Creeper

Eastern Bluebird

Meadow Vole

American Goldfinch

Least Shrew

Northern Cardinal

Northern Ringneck Snake

Striped Skunk

Five-lined Skink

White-footed Mouse

Chinese Mantid

Meadow Vole

Green Stinkbug

Eastern Cottontail

Green Lacewing

White-tailed Deer



Rabid Wolf Spider

Mourning Cloak

American Dog Tick

Red-spotted Purple

Red-backed Salamander

Bald-faced Hornet

Virginia Opossum

Relationship to Humans:

People can eat Virginia Rose hips and flower petals. Hips are very high in Vitamin C (one hip has more than an entire orange). Hips are also used to make tea and medicines. Virginia Rose is a good plant to have in your yard to attract wildlife, just be careful of the thorns!



Rosa virginiana


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