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Detailed information sheet

Click on the photos for a larger image.

Botanical name :
Rosa rubiginosa
Family :
Rosaceae (rose) family 
Common name :
sweet briar 
Also known as :
sweet briar, eglantine, briar rose, Rosa eglanteria   
Where is it originally
from? :
Europe, North Africa
What does it look like? :
Deciduous, erect, occasionally dense, woody shrub to 3 m (occasionally 5 m) tall with stout branched roots that often sucker. Many arching stems grow from the base, with few to many, 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 8-28 mm). 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, followed by prominent, egg-shaped, shiny red or orange-red rose hips (12-22 x 10-18 mm) from February to May. 
Are there any similar
species? :
Dog rose (Rosa canina) has even-sized thorns and is also weedy, especially in damp areas. 
Why is it weedy? :
Long-lived seed is occasionally well dispersed and spread is also by suckers. Tolerates drought, hot to very cold temperatures, wind, low fertility, most well-drained soils and damage (little grazed). Can dominate the canopy. 
How does it spread? :
Mostly via suckers and also by bird-dispersed seed. Abandoned gardens, poor and drought-prone pasture, roadsides, and river flats are all common sources. 
What damage does it do? :
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 or badly degraded forest. 
Which habitats is
it likely to invade? :
Tall and short tussockland, shrubland, riverbeds, stabilised screes, steep open slopes, well drained sites, dunes, and bare land, mainly in drier eastern areas. 
What can I do to get
rid of it? :
1. Dig out (all year round): small patches only. Dispose of root crowns and rhizomes at a refuse transfer station or burn or bury deeply.
2. Cut down and paint stump (summer-autumn): metsulfuron-methyl 600g/kg (1 g /L). 
3. Spray (full leaf stage): glyphosate (100ml/10L) or metsulfuron-methyl 600g/kg (5g/10L + penetrant) or Tordon Brushkiller (50ml/10L). 
What can I do to
stop it coming back? :
Suckering roots and crowns resprout after spraying and cut stumps resprout.  Grazing does not control plant, merely eliminates plant competition. Exclude livestock, maintain control of rabbits and other browsing pests. Planting sites can minimise seedling regrowth. Do not replant for at least 4 months after spraying. 

Description:Rosa rubiginosa, sweet briar, close up of flower and foliage, Kinloch, Lake Taupo, January 2003.Photo:by C.Howell.

Description:Sweet briar hips showing seeds.Photo:C.Lewis

Description:Sweet briar infestation.Photo:C.Lewis

Description:Rosa rubiginosa, sweet briar.Photo:by Plant Protection Society

Description:Rosa rubiginosa, sweet briar, close up of fruit, Cowcliff Conservation Area, Kawarau Gorge, Queenstown.Photo:by C.Howell.

Description:Sweet briar hips.Photo:C.Lewis


For more detailed botanical descriptions of weed species, check out the Plant Conservation Network's website at http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/exotic_plant_life_and_weeds/index.asp

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*The chemical control methods in this manual were devised by Department of Conservation staff for Department of Conservation operations and should not be used as a substitute for the pesticide manufacturer's label instructions. The Department of Conservation takes no responsibility for any liability or damage to any person, property or thing which may occur as a result of the use of any pesticide in accordance with the chemical control methods contained on this website.


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