Plant of the Week
Swamp Rose (Rosa palustris Marsh)
By Larry Stritch
Swamp Rose is a perennial shrub, up to seven feet tall that is native to the eastern United States. It is a multi-branched shrub with the branches arcing gracefully. The flowers are a light pink and solitary or a few in a cluster, 1 to 2 inches in diameter. The leaves are alternate and pinnately divided with 7 leaflets.
Swamp Rose occurs along stream banks, in swamps and marshes. In swamps it is generally found growing on bald cypress knees or exposed downed logs. It grows best in slightly acidic, wet to moist soils in partial shade or full sunlight. Rosa palustris is extremely fragrant and the pink blooms last for six to eight weeks in midseason, generally June through July. The fruit (rose hip) is red and fleshy on the outside with a mass of seeds inside the rose hip. The rose hips are eaten and spread by birds.
Rosa palustris is easily propagated. Collect seeds in the fall once the rose hips have ripened. The seed coats are hard and require scarification; a time of warm stratification followed by a cold stratification. Sow scarified seeds in a seed germination mixture that has had a slow release fertilizer mixed in. Put seedlings into individual pots and out plant the seedlings in the summer once they are at least 10 inches in height.