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Rosa arkansana


Courtesy of Craig Rekoske and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Courtesy of Robert W. Freckmann and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Hauser, Alan S. 2006. Rosa arkansana. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].


Rosa suffulta Greene [63,115]
  =R. a. var. suffulta
Rosa pratincola Greene [63]
  =R. a. var. suffulta
Rosa alcea Greene [63]
  =R. a. var. suffulta


prairie rose
Arkansas rose
sunshine rose
dwarf prairie rose
prairie wild rose

The currently accepted scientific name of prairie rose is Rosa arkansana Porter (Rosaceae) [18,42,43,44,56,58,74,91,133,136]. There are 2 recognized varieties:

Rosa arkansana Porter var. arkansana [73,74,85], Arkansas rose
Rosa arkansana var. suffulta (Greene) Cockerell [23,39,73,74,85], sunshine rose


No special status

Sunshine rose is presumed extirpated in Ohio [23,129].


SPECIES: Rosa arkansana
Prairie rose occurs from New Mexico north to British Columbia, east to Ontario, and south to the District of Columbia and Texas [18,42,43,44,56,58,74,91,115,133,136].

Sunshine rose is widespread, occurring across the species's distribution [18,42,43,44,56,58,74,91,115,133,136]. Arkansas rose occurs from New Mexico north to Wyoming and North Dakota, east to Michigan, and south to Indiana and Texas [73,74,85]. Plants Database provides a distributional map of prairie rose and its intrataxa, sunshine and Arkansas roses.

FRES15 Oak-hickory
FRES17 Elm-ash-cottonwood
FRES19 Aspen-birch
FRES20 Douglas-fir
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES29 Sagebrush
FRES30 Desert shrub
FRES31 Shinnery
FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe
FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub
FRES35 Pinyon-juniper
FRES37 Mountain meadows
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES39 Prairie
FRES40 Desert grasslands

STATES/PROVINCES: (key to state/province abbreviations)



6 Upper Basin and Range
7 Lower Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
14 Great Plains
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

K012 Douglas-fir forest
K016 Eastern ponderosa forest
K017 Black Hills pine forest
K018 Pine-Douglas-fir forest
K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland
K024 Juniper steppe woodland
K031 Oak-juniper woodland
K032 Transition between K031 and K037
K037 Mountain-mahogany-oak scrub
K040 Saltbush-greasewood
K053 Grama-galleta steppe
K054 Grama-tobosa prairie
K055 Sagebrush steppe
K056 Wheatgrass-needlegrass shrubsteppe
K059 Trans-Pecos shrub savanna
K064 Grama-needlegrass-wheatgrass
K065 Grama-buffalo grass
K066 Wheatgrass-needlegrass
K067 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass
K068 Wheatgrass-grama-buffalo grass
K069 Bluestem-grama prairie
K070 Sandsage-bluestem prairie
K071 Shinnery
K074 Bluestem prairie
K075 Nebraska Sandhills prairie
K076 Blackland prairie
K081 Oak savanna
K082 Mosaic of K074 and K100
K084 Cross Timbers
K098 Northern floodplain forest
K100 Oak-hickory forest
K101 Elm-ash forest
K106 Northern hardwoods
K107 Northern hardwoods-fir forest

14 Northern pin oak
16 Aspen
18 Paper birch
39 Black ash-American elm-red maple
40 Post oak-blackjack oak
42 Bur oak
46 Eastern redcedar
50 Black locust
52 White oak-black oak-northern red oak
53 White oak
55 Northern red oak
61 River birch-sycamore
62 Silver maple-American elm
63 Cottonwood
67 Mohrs (shin) oak
89 Live oak
95 Black willow
109 Hawthorn
110 Black oak
210 Interior Douglas-fir
212 Western larch
217 Aspen
220 Rocky Mountain juniper
235 Cottonwood-willow
236 Bur oak
237 Interior ponderosa pine
239 Pinyon-juniper

101 Bluebunch wheatgrass
104 Antelope bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
105 Antelope bitterbrush-Idaho fescue
210 Bitterbrush
301 Bluebunch wheatgrass-blue grama
302 Bluebunch wheatgrass-Sandberg bluegrass
303 Bluebunch wheatgrass-western wheatgrass
310 Needle-and-thread-blue grama
311 Rough fescue-bluebunch wheatgrass
312 Rough fescue-Idaho fescue
313 Tufted hairgrass-sedge
314 Big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
315 Big sagebrush-Idaho fescue
316 Big sagebrush-rough fescue
317 Bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
318 Bitterbrush-Idaho fescue
319 Bitterbrush-rough fescue
320 Black sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
321 Black sagebrush-Idaho fescue
322 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany-bluebunch wheatgrass
402 Mountain big sagebrush
403 Wyoming big sagebrush
408 Other sagebrush types
409 Tall forb
411 Aspen woodland
412 Juniper-pinyon woodland
413 Gambel oak
414 Salt desert shrub
415 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany
416 True mountain-mahogany
419 Bittercherry
420 Snowbrush
421 Chokecherry-serviceberry-rose
501 Saltbush-greasewood
502 Grama-galleta
505 Grama-tobosa shrub
508 Creosotebush-tarbush
601 Bluestem prairie
602 Bluestem-prairie sandreed
603 Prairie sandreed-needlegrass
604 Bluestem-grama prairie
605 Sandsage prairie
606 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass
607 Wheatgrass-needlegrass
608 Wheatgrass-grama-needlegrass
609 Wheatgrass-grama
610 Wheatgrass
611 Blue grama-buffalo grass
612 Sagebrush-grass
613 Fescue grassland
614 Crested wheatgrass
615 Wheatgrass-saltgrass-grama
701 Alkali sacaton-tobosagrass
702 Black grama-alkali sacaton
703 Black grama-sideoats grama
704 Blue grama-western wheatgrass
705 Blue grama-galleta
706 Blue grama-sideoats grama
707 Blue grama-sideoats grama-black grama
708 Bluestem-dropseed
709 Bluestem-grama
710 Bluestem prairie
712 Galleta-alkali sacaton
713 Grama-muhly-threeawn
714 Grama-bluestem
715 Grama-buffalo grass
716 Grama-feathergrass
717 Little bluestem-Indiangrass-Texas wintergrass
720 Sand bluestem-little bluestem (dunes)
721 Sand bluestem-little bluestem (plains)
722 Sand sagebrush-mixed prairie
730 Sand shinnery oak
731 Cross timbers-Oklahoma
732 Cross timbers-Texas (little bluestem-post oak)
733 Juniper-oak
735 Sideoats grama-sumac-juniper
801 Savanna
802 Missouri prairie

Prairie rose is recognized as a dominant species in the following vegetation classifications:

Cedar Creek Natural History Area old field (codominant with little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis), and Heller's rosette grass (Dichanthelium oligosanthes) [124]

Black Hills (codominant with Wood's rose (Rosa woodsii) and skunkbush sumac) [64]


SPECIES: Rosa arkansana
This description provides characteristics that may be relevant to fire ecology, and is not meant for identification. Keys for identification are available (e.g. [18,56,58,63,85,115,132]).

Prairie rose is a long-lived shrub [33,62,81,121,122]. Plants generally die back each year to near the base due to drought or freezing [18,58,63,132,136]. Prairie rose grows to a height of 1.5 to 8 feet (0.5-2.5 m) [62,121,122]. The stems are flexible, erect, 4 to 20 inches (10-50 cm) long [18,58,63], and densely covered with thorns 4 to 8 mm thick and usually 1 to 3.5 mm long. Thorns can be as long as 8 mm [115,121,122]. Prairie rose leaves are alternate [56,58,115,121,122,132], 3 to 4 inches (8-10 cm) long, and have 5 to 11 leaflets [39,42,43,44,56,58,63,115].

The inflorescence of prairie rose is usually 5- or more-flowered [136], but may be solitary [58,115,121,122]. Prairie rose flowers are 5-petaled, 0.6 to 1 inch (1.5-2.5 cm) long and approximately the same width [58,63,115]. Prairie rose hips occur in clusters of 2 to 3 [115] and are 10 to 15 mm thick [56]. The fruits of prairie rose are achenes contained within the rose hip [42,43,44,121,122]. Achenes are 3 to 5.5 mm long [18,58,115], 2.8 to 3.5 mm wide [115], and weigh approximately 0.012 to 0.019 g [116,117].

Prairie rose roots grow deep in the soil and are very stout [58]. On the mixed-grass prairie of west-central Kansas, prairie rose roots reach depths of 10 to 12 feet (3-3.7 m), terminating only when they hit shale [1]. In the sandhills of Nebraska, prairie rose roots to a depth of 8 to12 feet (2.4-3.7 m) [125].


Prairie rose regenerates from seeds [42,43,44,58,121,122] and by sprouting from the root crown [51,62].

Pollination: Prairie rose is insect pollinated [89].

Breeding system: Prairie rose has perfect flowers [115].

Seed production: Most rose (Rosa spp.) species 1st flower and produce seed when they are 2 to 5 years old, and good seed crops are produced every 1 to 2 years [62]. In North Dakota, prairie rose plants taken from the field yielded from 189 to 200 rose hips/main stem [116,117] with approximately 15 to 30 achenes/rose hip [58].

Deer browse prairie rose and can have a detrimental effect on seed production. Spotswood and others [114] found that deer browsing caused a significant (p<0.001) decrease in prairie rose flower production and seed mass.

Seed dispersal: The seeds of prairie rose are primarily dispersed by birds and mammals [62,83].

Seed banking: Prairie rose is a seed-banking species [62].

Germination: Germination of rose seeds is very difficult, and scarification is generally needed for successful germination [62]. Prairie rose seeds taken from the tallgrass prairies of Nebraska and Kansas and planted unscarified in a greenhouse had at best a germination rate of 0.5% [14].

The average dormancy length for rose seeds is 12 to 15 months [62].

Seedling establishment/growth: In early June, 1991, prairie rose seeds were planted on 20 experimental plots at Cedar Creek Natural History Area, Minnesota. By August 1992, prairie rose seedlings had successfully established on all plots. However, by 1998, prairie rose plants were found within only 4 plots [53].

Asexual regeneration: Prairie rose sprouts from the root crown [51,62]. Several authors [76,92,125] suggest that prairie rose spreads by rhizomes, but this is not supported by more recent literature.

Prairie rose is found growing on plains and hills [18,42,43,44,56,63,85,115,136], "waste places" [18], fields [18,133], prairies [56,58,115,132], open banks [115], loess hills [115], bluffs [115], thickets [56,58,115,132], roadsides [58,115,133], railroad banks [115,133], and the margin of woods and open woodlands [56,58,115].

Climate: Prairie rose is most commonly found growing under a continental climate regime with hot summers, cold winters, strong winds, and low humidity [1,22,33].

Prairie rose is exceptionally resistant to drought. During the "Great Drought of 1934" across the Great Plains, prairie rose plants in eastern Nebraska produced an "unusually" large crop of fruit and showed no wilting during the greatest periods of stress (20 June to 5 August) [135]. Drought once again swept the Great Plains in 1936 and caused no reduction in prairie rose in eastern Nebraska. During the drought of 1936 prairie rose density averaged 40 stems/m² near Lincoln, Nebraska, and remained constant when normal precipitation returned during the 1937 growing season [103].

Elevation: Elevational ranges for prairie rose are presented below:

State Elevation
Colorado 3,500 to 9,000 feet [35,63]
Kansas 2,000 to 2,200 feet [1]
Montana 1,400 to 4,400 feet [22,25]
Nebraska 2,500 to 4,500 feet [126]
New Mexico 3,500 to 9,000 feet [132]
South Dakota 2,500 to 7,200 feet [16,64,68]
Texas 3,500 to 8,500 feet [132]

Soil: Prairie rose tolerates a wide range of soils, except those that are very wet or acidic. It favors soil pH values from 5.6 to 7.0 [62]. Prairie rose is generally found on dry, fine-textured, silty, clay loam soils [1,115]. In the Nebraska sandhills [54] and the northern Great Plains [31], prairie rose grows on coarse-textured sandy soils.

Detailed soil analyses of areas where prairie rose occurs in the Cedar Creek Natural History Area, Minnesota [83], Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota [120], and in the Badlands of southeastern Montana [25] are available.

Prairie rose tolerates disturbed sites such as burns [27], has some shade tolerance [62], and occurs in several stages of succession.

Prairie rose occurs in early succession at the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory. It grows on sites that were grazed heavily and have rehabilitated naturally [4]. Prairie rose is found on secondary successional sites on the mixed-grass prairies of southwestern North Dakota [21]. At the Konza Prairie Research Natural Area, Kansas, prescription burning is employed to control woody plants. On unburned areas, prairie rose, along with coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus), Jersey tea (Ceanothus herbaceus), and smooth sumac (Rhus glabra), is part of a stable, dominant community [33]. In the Black Hills mountain-mahogany-sumac (Cercocarpus-Rhus spp.) association, prairie rose occurs as a "subclimax" species [64]. Prairie rose occurs on early "subclimax" sites in the interior ponderosa pine zone of Pike's Peak, Colorado. The site is farmland that had been abandoned 62 years prior to the study [72].

Tilman [124] lists prairie rose occurring in secondary succession in old fields at Cedar Creek Natural History Area, Minnesota. At the Cedar Creek Natural History Area, Lawson and others [83] found that prairie rose occurred in varying degrees of abundance on farmland that had been abandoned from 1 to 70 years ago. The greatest abundance of prairie rose occurred on fields abandoned from 30 to 50 years prior to the study.

Prairie rose begins growing in early spring and reaches senescence from September to October [86].

Data were collected from 1979 to 1984 on the phenology of prairie rose near Woodsworth, North Dakota. Earliest 1st bloom occurred on 29 May, and the latest 1st bloom occurred on 26 June. The average date of full prairie rose flowering was 29 June, and the average date when flowering was 95% complete was 31 July. The average length of flowering of prairie rose was 33 days [29].

Flowering dates for prairie rose are presented below:

State/Province/Region Flowering Date
Arkansas May to August [132]
Kansas April/May to August [86]
North Dakota May/June to August [84]
New Mexico May to August [132]
Oklahoma May to August [132]
Texas May to August [132]
Great Plains May to August [58]
North-central Great Plains June to August [115]
British Columbia June to August [62]


SPECIES: Rosa arkansana
Fire adaptations: Prairie rose establishes after fire by seed [42,43,44,58,121,122] and/or sprouting from the root crown [51,62].

Fire regimes: Many diverse communities provide prairie rose habitat. Prairie rose experiences extreme ranges in fire frequency. In interior ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum) and oak (Quercus spp.) savanna communities, fire may occur as often as often as every 2 years [95,134]. Conversely, prairie rose occurs in curlleaf mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius) communities where the fire return interval can be as great as 1,000 years [9,109]. A brief fire description of locales where prairie rose is most common is provided below.

Nebraska Sandhills: Prairie rose is an important species within Nebraska sandhills xeric communities [139]. There is little recorded history on the frequency of fire in presettlement times in the sandhills, but fires were likely common, occurring every 1 to 10 years [95,112]. Since the 1900s, lightning-caused fires are well reported and occur often, yet are quickly suppressed [20]. Fire played a beneficial role in preserving the tallgrass prairies of the Nebraska sandhills. Fire exclusion has led to an increase in nonnative species including Kentucky bluegrass and smooth brome (Bromus inermis) [112].

Northern Great Plains: Historically fire has played an important role in the northern Great Plains. The large tracts of continuous mixed-grass prairie, which occur in hot, dry areas and accumulate much fine fuel, are susceptible to frequent lightning fires. In journal entries from 1814, Merriweather Lewis mentioned observing fires 12 times while crossing the northern Great Plains [78]. For yearly ignitions in the Dakotas, Higgins [67] estimated that 6 lightning fires historically consumed 4,000 miles² (10,000 km²) of grasslands in eastern North Dakota. In western North Dakota, he estimated that 25 lightning fires consumed 4,000 miles² (10,000 km²) of grasslands in a year. Early records kept by explorers, trappers, and settlers noted a high occurrence of fires, both natural and anthropogenic, with fires occurring at intervals of 5 to 10 years [40,95,108,111,142]. Fire has been excluded since the early 1900s, allowing nonnative species such as Japanese brome (Bromus japonicus), smooth brome (B. inermis), Kentucky bluegrass, crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum), and Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) to take a strong hold in the area [40].

The following table provides fire return intervals for plant communities and ecosystems where prairie rose is important. Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes".

Community or ecosystem Dominant species Fire return interval range (years)
silver maple-American elm Acer saccharinum-Ulmus americana <5 to 200 [134]
bluestem prairie Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium <10 [79,95]
Nebraska sandhills prairie Andropogon gerardii var. paucipilus-Schizachyrium scoparium <10 [95]
silver sagebrush steppe Artemisia cana 5-45 [66,99,142]
sagebrush steppe Artemisia tridentata/Pseudoroegneria spicata 20-70 [95]
basin big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata var. tridentata 12-43 [106]
mountain big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata var. vaseyana 15-40 [7,26,90]
Wyoming big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata var. wyomingensis 10-70 ( x=40) [131,144]
saltbush-greasewood Atriplex confertifolia-Sarcobatus vermiculatus <35 to >100 [95,145]
birch Betula spp. 80-230 [123]
desert grasslands Bouteloua eriopoda and/or Pleuraphis mutica 10 to <100 [87,95]
plains grasslands Bouteloua spp. <35 [95,142]
blue grama-needle-and-thread grass-western wheatgrass Bouteloua gracilis-Hesperostipa comata-Pascopyrum smithii <35 [95,104,142]
blue grama-buffalo grass Bouteloua gracilis-Buchloe dactyloides <35 [95,142]
grama-galleta steppe Bouteloua gracilis-Pleuraphis jamesii <35 to <100
blue grama-tobosa prairie Bouteloua gracilis-Pleuraphis mutica <35 to <100 [95]
curlleaf mountain-mahogany* Cercocarpus ledifolius 13-1,000 [9,109]
mountain-mahogany-Gambel oak scrub Cercocarpus ledifolius-Quercus gambelii <35 to <100 [95]
black ash Fraxinus nigra <35 to 200 [134]
green ash Fraxinus pennsylvanica <35 to >300 [47,134]
juniper-oak savanna Juniperus ashei-Quercus virginiana <35
Rocky Mountain juniper Juniperus scopulorum <35 [95]
cedar glades Juniperus virginiana 3-22 [60,95]
wheatgrass plains grasslands Pascopyrum smithii <5-47+ [95,99,142]
pinyon-juniper Pinus-Juniperus spp. <35 [95]
Colorado pinyon Pinus edulis 10-400+ [52,57,75,95]
interior ponderosa pine* Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum 2-30 [5,10,82]
galleta-threeawn shrubsteppe Pleuraphis jamesii-Aristida purpurea <35 to <100
eastern cottonwood Populus deltoides <35 to 200 [95]
quaking aspen-paper birch Populus tremuloides-Betula papyrifera 35-200 [46,134]
quaking aspen (west of the Great Plains) Populus tremuloides 7-120 [5,59,88]
Texas savanna Prosopis glandulosa var. glandulosa <10 [95]
Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir* Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca 25-100 [5,7,8]
oak-juniper woodland (Southwest) Quercus-Juniperus spp. <35 to <200 [95]
white oak-black oak-northern red oak Quercus alba-Q. velutina-Q. rubra <35
bur oak Quercus macrocarpa <10 [134]
oak savanna Quercus macrocarpa/Andropogon gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium 2-14 [95,134]
shinnery Quercus mohriana <35 [95]
northern red oak Quercus rubra 10 to <35
black oak Quercus velutina <35
live oak Quercus virginiana 10 to<100 [134]
little bluestem-grama prairie Schizachyrium scoparium-Bouteloua spp. <35 [95]
*fire return interval varies widely; trends in variation are noted in the species review

Tall shrub, adventitious bud/root crown
Secondary colonizer (on-site or off-site seed sources)


SPECIES: Rosa arkansana
Prairie rose is top-killed by fire [51].

No additional information is available on this topic.

Prairie rose recovers from fire by seed [42,43,44,58,121,122] and/or sprouting from the root crown [51,62]. Prairie rose seed is dispersed onto burned sites by birds and mammals [62,83]. Prairie rose utilizes a seed bank [62] but as of this review (2006), there is no information on seed tolerance to fire. Seed insulated by soil is probably well protected from fire. Most of the research on prairie rose shows that it increases following burning. In 3 studies described below, prairie rose decreased following fire, but in 1 of those studies it returned to prefire levels in postfire year 2 [20].

Annual early spring burning in quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) parklands of east-central Alberta caused a significant (p<0.05) decrease in prairie rose cover, but no significant changes in frequency and density. The study area was a mosaic of quaking aspen and plains rough fescue-shortbristle needle-and-thread (Festuca altaica ssp. hallii-Hesperostipa curtiseta) grasslands that were burned every April for at least 24 years prior to the study. Fires were conducted to control woody vegetation. In July and August 1976, prairie rose cover was 0.6% on burned sites and 1.3% on unburned sites [3].

From October 1979 to April 1980 approximately 961 acres (389 ha) of interior ponderosa pine-grasslands were burned in the southern Black Hills of South Dakota; these fires had little effect on prairie rose. Researchers pooled the findings of prairie rose and Wood's rose (Rosa woodsii) before and after the prescribed fires. Immediately following the fires (2-8 months) and in postfire year 1 (14-20 months), mean maximum rose height decreased. Immediately following the fire the number of rose stems remained the same, but decreased slightly during postfire year 1 [15,16].

  Prefire Immediately following fire Postfire year 1
Stem density (# of stems/m² ± SD) 0.8 ± 3.1 0.8 ± 3.4 0.6 ± 2.5
Mean maximum height (cm ± SD) 17.4 ± 8.0 14.0 ± 6.6 15.6 ± 6.3
Mean maximum crown width (cm ± SD) 10.6 ± 6.2 11.3 ± 4.7 11.9 ± 7.6

Beginning in 1972 on the Konza Prairie Research Natural Area, Kansas, parcels of land were subjected to 1-, 2-, and 4-year burning intervals. Prior to 1972, the entire area was burned every 2 or 3 years and grazed by cattle. The average cover of prairie rose on annually burned, 4-year burned, and unburned sites was 0.1%, 0.1%, and 0.4%, respectively [34].

In western North Dakota, prairie rose was less frequent on burned than unburned sites 3 months to 4 years after prescribed fire [51]. Prairie rose was present on 2 burn sites: Dedication Hill and North Rim. The fire on Dedication Hill occurred on 14 August 1954 and covered 3.2 acres (1.3 ha). Prairie rose stands on Dedication Hill occur on soils composed of loamy fine sands, have an exposure of 15° west of north, and a slope of 10°. The fire on North Rim occurred on 29 May 1958 and covered 2.5 acres (1 ha). The stands of prairie rose on North Rim occur on fine sandy loams, have an exposure of 25° south of west, and a slope of 10°. Dedication Hill and North Rim are both upland sites that have been grazed lightly in the past and had been fire-free for at least 20 years prior to the study. Vegetation sampling occurred in mid-August 1958, when prairie rose had completed growth for the year and was curing. The following table reflects the relative frequency of prairie rose [41]:

  4 years postfire 3 months postfire
Dedication Hill North Rim
Burned 12.5% 17.5%
Unburned 30% 42.5%

Prairie rose was more frequent on burned than unburned areas in Iowa's 160-acre (64.75-ha) Kalsow Prairie. Prior to 1950, the Kalsow Prairie was "closely" mowed yearly. Since 1950, the primary management tool for Kalsow Prairie has been prescription burning. The 1st controlled burn took place in the spring of 1959, followed by a fire in 1968. Subsequent fires continued through the 1970s until the mid-1980s. Since 1986, 25% to 50% of the prairie has been burnt with an average frequency of every 2.3 years. In 1950, the frequency of occurrence of prairie rose on 1-m² quadrats was 45.0%. In 1999/2000, frequency of occurrence of prairie rose was 73.8%, which is significantly (p<0.05) greater than frequency in 1950 [45].

Prairie rose percent species composition was similar on burned and unburned plots in the Special Areas administrative district south of Buffalo, Alberta, following a 16,060-acre (6,500 ha) wildfire on the mixed-grass prairie. Prairie rose occurred in a lowland section of the district dominated by needle-and-thread grass (Hesperostipa comata), porcupine grass (H. spartea), western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii), and Montana wheatgrass (Elymus albicans). The range was in good to excellent condition prior to the fire. In late-July/early-August 1997 (postfire year 3), the estimated proportion of total yield contributed by prairie rose species on burned sites was 1.1% and 0.3% on adjacent unburned sites [48].

At an upland site in eastern North Dakota, prairie rose herbage production and caloric content were greater on sites burned in early spring and analyzed in August of the same year than plants on unburned uplands [61]:

  Grams/m² Calories/m²
Burned 7.1 32,582
Unburned 4.8 21,176

Prairie rose frequency increased over an 18-year period on both burned and unburned sites in the Konza Prairie Biological Station (KPBS), Kansas. The KPBS is floristically diverse, containing more than 600 plant species, but only 3 species (big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii), little bluestem, and indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans)) are dominant. During the 18-year period, fire rotation treatments were annual burns, 4-year burns, and a single burn that occurred in 1991. On annual burn sites, the frequency of prairie rose remained stable at 2.5%. On 4-year burn sites, prairie rose frequency increased from 17.5% to 30.0%. On the once-burned site, prairie rose frequency increased from 0% to 12.5% [65].

Beginning in 1965, an annual prescribed burning program was initiated at Cedar Creek Natural History Area in east-central Minnesota. Burning was conducted in April or May, between snowmelt and oak (Quercus spp.) leaf-out. In 2 years, 1970 and 1975, burning was not conducted due to unsuitable conditions. In 1979, prairie rose frequency was measured on burned and unburned areas. The frequency on annual burn sites was 6.4%, which was substantially greater than the 1.0% frequency on unburned sites [140,141]

Following a December 1997 wildfire on a rough fescue prairie southwest of Granum, Alberta, prairie rose cover increased on interior burn sites at postfire months 5 and 17, but cover on perimeter burned and unburned sites was relatively unchanged. The fire was extremely hot, with head fire intensity ranging from 10,000 to 20,000 kW/m². The average rate of fire spread (~6 miles/hr (10 km/hr)) was 1 of the greatest documented for a grassland fire in Canada. Conditions were favorable the 2 growing seasons following the fire, with precipitation 46% above average in 1998 and average in 1999. In 1998 (postfire month 5), canopy cover of prairie rose on interior, perimeter, and unburned sites was 2.7%, 0.5%, and 0.2%, respectively. In 1999 (postfire month 17), canopy cover of prairie rose on interior, perimeter, and unburned sites was 3.9%, 1.0%, and 0.5%, respectively [19].

In the Nebraska sandhills, prairie rose cover on south-facing slopes significantly (p<0.05) decreased postfire year 1 (1985) after spring and summer (1984) burning. By postfire years 2 through 4, prairie rose recovered to levels at or near prefire conditions. Fall burning of prairie rose did not significantly (p<0.05) alter cover [20].

The research described above suggests that prescription burning favors prairie rose. However, exceptions to this pattern also occur. Managers should use caution if fire is used to manage prairie rose.

Wildlife: At the Woodsworth Study Area, North Dakota, Johnson [71] found that burning prairie rose and other shrub species may displace birds such as eastern kingbird, willow flycatcher, yellow warbler, common yellowthroat, clay-colored sparrow, and brown-headed cowbird, all of which thrive in woody vegetation that has been long-protected from fire.


SPECIES: Rosa arkansana
Browse value of prairie rose is fair for livestock [12,92].

Insects: On grasslands near Boulder, Colorado, 3 species of grasshoppers were fed prairie rose in a trial study. The grasshoppers had little affinity for prairie rose, consuming between 10% and 15% of the plant material given them [30].

Small mammals: In Kansas, prairie rose is 1 of the species most heavily utilized by eastern cottontails in winter on little bluestem-dominated sites [38]. Prairie rose is utilized by jackrabbits and cottontail rabbits on the mixed-grass prairies of the Great Plains [24,102].

Ungulates: Prairie rose browse value for mule deer is fair during late summer and fall but worthless in winter [92]. During April and May, prior to active leaf growth, mule deer on the Manitou Experimental Forest, Colorado, lightly browsed prairie rose. By June and July, prairie rose made up approximately 17% to 18% of their diet, which was 2nd only to interior ponderosa pine and slightly more than bluegrass (Poa spp.). From August to October, mule deer utilization of prairie rose averaged 5.1% to 8.0% [35].

Pronghorn eating habits were observed in Petroleum County, Montana, during 1953 and 1954. During the spring, summer, and fall, prairie rose constituted 4.6%, 12.9%, and 5.3%, respectively, of pronghorn diets. Prairie rose was the most important forage species on the shale slopes of the study site [32]. Pronghorn diets near Lewistown, Montana, consist of 2% to 8% prairie rose during the summer [137].

Palatability/nutritional value: Little information exists on the palatability and nutritional value of prairie rose. It is described as palatable in the interior ponderosa pine region of Pike's Peak, Colorado [72]. Ferguson [51] describes the nutritional value of prairie rose as high. On the rangelands of North Dakota, the protein value of prairie rose leaves and twigs is sufficient for domestic sheep and cattle throughout the growing season [49].

After growth ceases and prairie rose enters dormancy, it retains reserve food material in its stems. Prairie rose taken from northern Alberta, where the temperature can fall to -50 °F (-46 °C) or below in the winter, retain starch, oil, and fat in their stems over winter [127].

Cover value: Prairie rose is described as a good cover species for a variety of bird species in the northern Great Plains [71,97] and in Texas [93]. It is the most common species found on American badger mounds at the Cayler Prairie Preserve, Iowa [98]. It provides cover for prairie skink lizards at the Cedar Creek Natural History Area, Minnesota [97] and for black-tailed prairie dogs in North Dakota near Theodore Roosevelt National Park [119].

Since growing prairie rose from seed is difficult [14,62], rehabilitation of disturbed sites is generally achieved by using bare rootstock or cuttings [51].

Bare rootstocks of prairie rose were used to successfully rehabilitate 6 mine reclamation sites in Wyoming and Colorado. Prairie rose rootstocks were planted at the 6 sites in May and June 1976 and height, spread, and survival rate were measured at the end of the growing season 1977. Prairie rose height, spread (diameter), and survival rate ranged from 1.5 to 4 inches (4-10 cm), 2 to 9 inches (5-22 cm), and 25% to 100%, respectively [17,69].

At the Samuel H. Ordway Jr. Memorial Prairie, South Dakota, disturbed sites were successfully revegetated by prairie rose plants. Plants were introduced on denuded earthen mounds at sites on the low, middle, and high prairie in 1987. The cover of prairie rose increased nearly 100% on all 3 sites by 1992. From 1988 to 1992, prairie rose increased on the low, middle, and high prairie from 0.7% to 1.6%, 1.1% to 2.1%, and 1.9% to 3.6%, respectively [130].

There was 1 prairie rose cultivar ('common') available as of 2006 [128].

The Navajo and Lakota Native American tribes had many uses for prairie rose. Boiled roots were used for colds, fevers, diarrhea, influenza, and stomach and liver disorders. Tea made from petals was purportedly used as a heart tonic, to stop mouth bleeds, and to treat sore throats and tonsillitis. Rose hip tea was prescribed as a remedy for tuberculosis. Prairie rose hips and/or roots were steeped in water and used to treat eye inflammation. Crushed roots were made into hot compresses to treat swelling [105]. Plains Native Americans used prairie rose as a source of food [77].

Control methods: Allred [2] discusses the use of chemical, mechanical, and biological methods to control prairie rose.

Fertilization: Inouye and Tilman [70] discuss the positive effects of nitrogen fertilization on prairie rose growth over an 11-year period.

Grazing: In the interior ponderosa pine-bunchgrass ranges of the central Rocky Mountains, prairie rose is favored by light to moderate (<33% herbage removal) cattle browsing [36]. In the Badlands of North Dakota, prairie rose cover in green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) draws was highest on sites that were heavily grazed by cattle [28].

A 17-year study of grazing within an interior ponderosa pine-bunchgrass range in Colorado found that grazing of any intensity caused a decrease in prairie rose. Prairie rose cover is very low in the area, ranging from less than 0.005% to 0.10%. Reduction of prairie rose was greatest on heavily grazed sites where more than 50% of herbage removal occurred [113].

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