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Close up of pink Nootka Rose flower (Rosa nutkana) - native Oregon shrub. One of 100+ species of Pacific Northwest native plants available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants, Native Plant Nursery in Portland, Oregon.
Close up of pink Nootka Rose flower (Rosa nutkana) - native Oregon shrub. One of 100+ species of Pacific Northwest native plants available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants, Native Plant Nursery in Portland, Oregon.

Nootka Rose

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Rosa nutkana

Nootka rose is an upright, thicket-forming, deciduous shrub with unrivaled wildlife value. Large, sweet-scented pink flowers appear at the branch tips in mid-to-late spring. These attractive flowers mature into summer fruits, called hips, that are nutritious in tea and eaten by countless species of birds and mammals, especially in the winter months when other foods are scarce. 

  • Plant type/canopy layer: large deciduous perennial shrub
  • Size at maturity: 4-10' tall, 2-3' wide
  • Light requirements: full sun, part sun/part shade
  • Moisture requirements: dry to wet soil
  • Bloom time: April - August (April - May in Portland-Metro area)
  • Growth rate/ease: grows quickly and easily
  • Wildlife support: leaves are eaten by mourning cloak butterfly larvae and used by the leaf-cutter bee; leaves/twigs are eaten by squirrels, beavers, and porcupines; young shoots are popular with aphids which in turn provide food for a wide range of predators including ladybugs and songbirds; flowers attract and provide nectar for hummingbirds, adult butterflies, bees and other insect pollinators; hips provide food to several bird and mammal species including grouse, bluebirds, juncos, grosbeaks, quail, pheasants, and thrushes - plus chipmunks, rabbits, hares, porcupines, coyotes, deer, elk, and bear; seeds are used by birds as a source of grit; the overall plant is a caterpillar host plant and larval food source for several species of native butterflies and bees, it is also thicket-forming which provides critical shelter and habitat for birds such as pheasants and grouses, roses are well known as “deer candy” and are an important browse species for deer, elk, moose, caribou and bighorn sheep
  • Native habitat/range: locally common in thickets, riparian areas, along forest edges, and on rocky slopes from Alaska to California (including British Columbia), and east to the Rocky Mountains. Portland Plant List - yes. 
  • Special features & uses: bird and wildlife favorite; fragrant flowers; landscape uses include pollinator gardens, raingardens, habitat hedgerows; traditionally used medicinally by many indigenous groups in the Pacific Northwest (including the Bella Coola, Cowichan, Lummi, Nlaka'pamux, and others), an infusion of roots and sprouts can be used as eyewash, decoction of bark can be used in tea to ease labor pains during childbirth and as a hair/body wash, poultice of chewed leaves eases bee stings, decoction of roots can treat sore throats, decoction of branches treats diarrhea and vomiting, poultice of ashes can heal skin swellings; young shoots are edible raw, boiled, dried, made into a jam or tea, and used as a spice, hips can be made into a delicious tea, exceptionally high in vitamins A, C & E; roots can be used to make reef nets, branches for hand brooms, to remove human scent before hunting and are believed by some to bring good luck; dried flower petals make excellent potpourri

Gardening with Nootka Rose: Nootka rose is a gorgeous wildlife magnet that prefers full to partial sun and tolerates most types of soils - including drought and seasonal wetness! That said, it is aggressive and eventually forms large, impenetrable thickets over time. It is valuable for stabilizing banks, especially along streams and is ideal for colonizing large spaces and habitat-friendly hedgerows where space allows.

Photo Credit 1: "Nootka rose" by brewbooks is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo Credit 2: "Nootka Rose" by La.Catholique is licensed under CC BY 2.0