Multiflora and RRD Watch

chescobob(z6b SEPA)April 19, 2005

I am working on a new rose garden at a new home and am hoping that I can avoid rose rosette disease (RRD). I know it is in PA. I moved to this area from the Washington, D. C. area in February 2004.

This Spring, I will be on the lookout for multiflora roses growing in the wild and any infected with RRD. I am in SW Chester County.

I know the multiflora roses bloom in the late Spring. Can you tell me the month when they should be blooming in this part of PA? If you can be specific it will be very helpful. I have not seen multiflora in the wild before and I am hoping I don't.


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If you have not seen multiflora in the wild, then you musn't be able to recognize it because I assure you that you pass within a few yards of it as you go about your life here in PA. Look for arching red-brown stems with thorns. Around here the biggest flush of blossoms is mid-June. There is really one species of wild roses growing around. Yes, I know that there is more than 1. I have 3 species in the hedgerow, 1 plant of 3 different species. Then there are hundreds of R. multiflora on my place, the neighbors, the RR, even PenDot harbors uncounted thousands on their right of ways. I would wager that of all the "wild" roses you see, 95% of the time the species is multiflora.

Speaking of RRD. I first noticed it here 2 yrs. ago. I noticed that one multiflora clump near the pond got what appeared to be witches brooms on the tips, then the new growth turned red and twisted up. By the time the leaves fell off the trees, most of the rather large clump was dead. This spring less than half (much less) the canes are dead. Then I examined the ones along the RR right of way. I thought they had been sprayed with an herbicide, but it turns out that only the roses are dead, the weeds among them are thriving. Apparently it sort of stayed along the tracks for a while, then Whoosh! it has traveled quite far from the tracks.

I have 4 mini-roses, so for me it is not the disaster it would be if I had a rose garden. I notice that it seems to follow the RR line, the mites probably being pushed along by the wind. Several clumps along the tracks are already dead from a couple of years of damage, and now I suspect we will have it spread away from the rails into the hedgerows.

I was at a MD Hort. Society talk last winter and mentioned this diesese to one of the ladies who rode along. She has a rose garden, and is convinced that if the diesese were as bad as I say she would be familiar with it. Judging by how slowly it is spreading, I figure her rose garden has about 2 more years. She is one person who I really want to say "I told you so!"

    Bookmark   April 19, 2005 at 9:12PM
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chescobob(z6b SEPA)


This is the first year that I am looking for multiflora. I guess a rose garden does that to a person. Its just a matter of time before the mites find me.

If my roses are attacked, I will plant something else. I just hope I get a few years with them first.

Thanks for your response.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2005 at 8:51AM
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geoforce(z7a SE PA)

I'm not a rose gardener, so it seems like sour grapes for me to say it, but anything that will eradicate r. multiflora can't be all bad.

I used to worry about Japanese honeysuckle, but now I have 5 invasives in my sights: Multiflora, eleagnus, honeysuckle, bittersweet, and porcelain berry.

Despite this, I dread seeing any new disease in our gardens. But with all the multiflora around I haven't noticed these symptoms in this area.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2005 at 8:52AM
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George, the problem is RRD won't wipe out multiflora.

As much as we would like to think it might, it won't. The multiflora rose is spread much too easily and can reproduce thousands of times before one single bush dies from RRD.

I will try to find some of my multiflora photos for you - I think it was in bloom the beginning of June around here.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2005 at 5:12PM
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chescobob(z6b SEPA)


Ann Peck has published a nice e-book on RRD. It is below and gives a nice description of the plant and leaf of R. Multiflora. It also shows many examples of RRD.

I am going to look around here to see how much R. Multiflora there is in my immediate vicinity and I hope I do not see any infected with RRD.

Good point on RRD's failure to eradicate R. Multiflora.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ann Peck's RRD E-Book

    Bookmark   April 20, 2005 at 7:48PM
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diane_nj 6b/7a

chescobob, we haven't had many reports on it from your area, although we do know that it is in both PA and NJ. If you do find any, please take pictures and document the location, then send an e-mail to anntn6b (Ann Peck, who is the author of the e-book), she'll want this info to add to her findings.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2005 at 2:41PM
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wolfe15136(z6 PA)

I have had it in my very urban rose garden in Pittsburgh. I destroyed every bush that showed any sign, and didn't get a reoccurence last year. But the source is out there somewhere...

I did confirm it was RRD by taking a cane to the local Ag extension office. They called me back and confirmed it.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2005 at 4:36PM
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multiflora.... who would have known that the "jager bush" had a real name !!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2005 at 8:23PM
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chescobob(z6b SEPA)


On my way back to SW Chester County on Route 1 from the Route 202 area, it looked like there was R. Multiflora everywhere. I'm in a farming area and it looks like there is R. Multiflora near fences, etc. around here. I checked the leaf pattern on several nearby plants and it matched R. Multiflora. I want to see the blooms and the hips too. Once I'm positive which bushes are R. Multiflora, I will take a closer look at the bushes I see.

If I find any infected bushes, I will take a photo with my cell phone and let you and Ann know. I did post an article last year about a native plant grower in the Kirkwood, Lancaster County, area who said he saw an RRD infected bush in a field.

I have 32 roses now in my new garden and will stop with those.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2005 at 9:16PM
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Thanks for linking to Ann Pecks online book. I actually have corresponded with Ann because I suspect there may be RRD in the multiflora in the State Park near my house. I plan to coordinate with the park director to check plants as they leaf out this spring. The plants I suspected were infected last summer may actually have been hit with herbicide drift which can cause some similar distortion in growth, so we want to be sure before we send up any huge red flags.

In the meantime, I am posting some photos I have of the multiflora that edges my property.

Hope that helps you with your id.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2005 at 4:42PM
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diane_nj 6b/7a

Oh, I know there are tons of multiflora bushes in the area, the question is are there any that are infected with RRD. That hasn't stopped a lot of people from growing roses there. Thanks, I'll pass on any info the the Philly Rose Society and the Del-Chester RS, they will be most interested. And Alexa's right, the herbicide damage issue throws a wrench into the problem, as that damage can look like RRD.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2005 at 5:28PM
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naturenut_pa(z6 PA)

have to post this question here, since everybody seems so knowledgeable...
is there any kind of wild rose that is native? for 3 years now, we've been using shovels to dig this stuff out of our woods, little by little. i'd hate to think that what we've been taking out isn't all multiflora.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2005 at 9:47PM
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chescobob(z6b SEPA)


Apparently there are native wild roses. I did a google search and found several. Below is one example.


Thanks for the photo. I have an acre of woods upwind and behind my new rose garden. I can only remember two white-flowering bushes back there. However, I think they were dogwood. Although I was here in February 2004, I cannot remember what was blooming in Spring. I didn't start planning my rose garden until late last Summer and Fall. I hope that the supect plants you mentioned were touched by herbicide and not RRD.


I'm excited about my 32 new roses and am looking forward to their first blooms in the next month. I visit a nursery near Kirkwood, Lancaster County, often. The native plant nursery that was mentioned in the article I posted on another thread is in the same place. I will pay special attention out that way. It is not far from here.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cook County, Illinois Native Wild Roses

    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 3:17PM
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geoforce(z7a SE PA)

After spending most every evening after work last week, and all day today rooting out multiflora and eleagnus from some of my woods, I can safely say that I saw absolutely none with RRD as described and illustrated in the references listed above. I think I removed perhaps 50-60 major bushes, most about 6-8 foot across but one running up into a tree over 30 foot. None appeared diseased


    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 10:23PM
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Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)

Wow, George, you sure got a lot done! Are you all scratched up? I had some wicked multiflora cuts recently, and my coworkers thought I'd been attacked by a cat.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 4:03PM
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Here is the latest incarnation of RRD here at my place. This photo was taken yesterday (7 May). This is the 3rd year for this plant to have the diesese, and I suspect it will be the last. I liked having a thorny shrub at this spot, the branches that hung down in the pond provided cover for tadpoles etc., and every year it had a bird's nest of some kind in it. This is Multiflora Rose.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2005 at 8:45AM
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