Appalachian Thursday – Multiflora Rose
It’s the bane of farmers.
Those twining, vining banks of simple roses can take over a fence line and encroach upon pasture. It’s pervasive, even invasive. Dad hated it and I did, too, for his sake.
But we aren’t farmers anymore and I have to confess, multiflora rose is growing on me.
It’s a non-native, invasive plant. Originally native to eastern Asia, it was introduced to the U.S. in the mid-1800s as an ornamental rose. Then, it was promoted for erosion control and as a “living fence” for livestock. Which was all well and good until it began taking over and choking out native species.
It’s now designated as a “noxious weed” in multiple states including Iowa, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and . . . West Virginia. Hum.
The National Park Service has some plain advice–“Do not plant multiflora rose.” But that’s alright. No one needs to. It simply crops up pretty much everywhere.
I used to work for Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, and Frederick Law Olmsted’s original plan for the Ramble leading down to the Walled Garden included a large planting of multiflora rose along the main staircase guiding guests down from the house. Mr. Olmsted saw the beauty, too.
And while I certainly acknowledge the negative aspects of this all too rapidly spreading shrub, I can’t help myself this time of year. Because when I step outside on a cool, spring morning, I see the flowers cascading along the roadside. And I breathe the sweet perfume sweetening the air.
And I think it must be how heaven smells.