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Rosa palustris

Common Name(s):
Swamp rose
Carolina Rose
Native Plants, Shrubs

Rosa palustris, commonly called swamp rose, is an upright deciduous shrub with arching branches that typically grows to 3-6' tall and as wide. It is native to wet ground (swamps, marshes, ditches, stream banks) from Nova Scotia to Ontario to Minnesota south to Florida and Louisiana.  Reddish stems with curved prickles are clad with pinnately compound medium to dark green leaves. Each leaf typically has 7 (sometimes 5 but rarely 9) broad-elliptic, finely-toothed, dark green leaflets (to 2 1/2" long) which are pointed at both ends. Fragrant, single pink roses (to 2" across) with contrasting yellow center stamens bloom from late spring to early summer (June- July). Flowers are followed by pea-sized red hips (to 1/2" long). Leaves turn often attractive shades of red in fall.

It is best grown in acidic, organically rich, boggy to wet soils in full sun. It tolerates light shade, but best flowering and disease resistance generally occur in full sun. Plants will not grow in standing water, but will tolerate some seasonal flooding. Good air circulation promotes vigorous and healthy growth and helps control foliar diseases. Prune as needed in late winter. Plants slowly spread by suckers.

Regions:  Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal plains

Seasons of Interest: 

  Leaf: Fall      Blooms:   Summer/late summer           Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Fall

Wildlife Value:  This plant has low resistance to damage from deer.  It provides excellent cover year round.  Its hips are eaten by songbirds, quail and wild turkey. 

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  This species rose is generally not susceptible to the disease and insect pests that attack many of the hybrid roses. For roses in general, potential disease problems include black spot, powdery mildew and rust. Potential insect pests include aphids, beetles, borers, scale, thrips, rose midges and leafhoppers. Spider mites may appear.

3-6 ft.
Sun; moist to wet soil
2 in. dark rose pink fragrant flowers in summer; red hips in fall
3-6 ft.
naturalize, deciduous, winter cover, fragrant, thorns, songbirds, rain garden, butterflies, showy

NCCES plant id: 550

Rosa palustris Rosa palustris
Carol Foil, CC BY - 4.0
Rosa palustris Rosa palustris
Malcolm Manners, CC BY - 4.0
Rosa palustris Rosa palustris
Malcolm Manners, CC BY - 4.0
Rosa palustris Rosa palustris
James M, CC BY-NC - 4.0