Beach Rose (Rosa rugosa)
Alternate common name: Sea Rose, Salt-spray
Appearance: Dark green bushes from 3 to 6 feet tall. Blooms range in color from white to pink to red; very fragrant when blooming.
Habitat: Coastal sand dunes, salt marshes, rocky shores, and roadsides.
Seasonal appearance: Blooms May to September.
Beach rose is a flowering plant common along the coastline of Rhode Island. It grows in large shrub groupings that stand 3 to 6 feet tall and often form thick hedges. The branching stems are dense and bristly, covered in sharp thorns, producing dark, green, shiny compound leaves 3 to 6 inches long.
Life History and Growth
Beach roses are commonly found along many Rhode Island beaches and range across North America from Nova Scotia to Florida and along the Gulf coast. Blooming in the summer, the beach rose produces 2- to 4-inch flowers ranging in color from white to pink to deep red. After blooming, the flowers of the beach rose bear fruit, called rose hips, which last through the summer and into the winter months. The fruit is orange to brick red and is eaten by many birds and other animals, including humans.
Rose hips resemble small crab apples and have a slightly bitter taste. The rose hip contains an abundance of seeds, which are distributed, in part, through the waste of the animals that feed on them. Like American beach grass, the beach rose thrives in sandy habitats. Beach rose bushes help stabilize beaches and dunes by retaining sand in the root clusters. Its dense thickets are inhabited by small animals and used as nesting sites by many birds.
Adapted from The Uncommon Guide to Common Life on Narragansett Bay. Save The Bay, 1998.