Tag Archives: Ozark wildflowers

Multiflora Roses Everywhere

I remember the ads years ago advertising living fences. Multiflora roses were touted as ecologically good and planted all over.

Now everyone wants rid of their multiflora roses. They spread quickly reaching up into trees and covering pastures. Every branch touching the ground puts down roots.

Trying to walk through a patch of these thorny bushes shows why people thought they would make good fences. Clothes, hair, skin get caught in the thorns. Branches wrap around legs and attach to backs.

multiflora roses have white flowers
Rosaceae, the rose family, has a basic flower pattern like that of the multiflora roses. There are five or a multiple of five petals around a central cone surrounded by numerous stamens. This same pattern is seen in common and rough cinquefoil, wild plums, apples, hawthorns, pears and native roses among others.

In areas where multiflora roses are common it’s a good idea to stick some hand pruners in the back pocket. These are the easiest way to extricate yourself from the embrace of these determined plants.

To give the plants their due, they do cover themselves with masses of white flowers in the spring. The flowers are small, single roses with little scent and become small, red rose hips that persist through the winter unless eaten. Native roses are pink with a strong, sweet scent and larger hips.

Goats and probably deer like the leaves. Their dexterous lips reach in between the thorns and yank the compound leaves off.

Like all successful invasive alien plants multiflora roses leaf out early. The bare stems already have swollen buds and some have opened into leaves. These will be welcome food during this lean food month for wildlife.

multiflora roses leaf out early
It’s February with snow threatening the Ozarks. The multiflora rose cane buds are swollen, some already opening up their leaves. Native plants are still dormant. If the rose leaves aren’t killed by frost, the plants will be growing vigorously before the native plants are leafed out.

Eradicating multiflora roses is next to impossible. They have deep perennial roots. Even if all of the canes are chopped off, new ones grow up from the roots.

Some herbicides will turn the bushes brown. Some of these roots will grow out again.

Intensive grazing by goats will kill the plants out as the new buds are eaten as soon as they open out into leaves. This works best if the old canes are cut down first so the goats can eat the tender new canes and leaves. They will take the tips of old canes, but not the main woody part.

These plants are a nuisance, but multiflora roses are here to stay.

New Year’s First Flowers

No flowers are blooming now. Even the dandelions are dormant. As I go through my pictures from this year, I wonder which will be the first flowers to bloom in the new year.

Several flowers come to mind. Little corn speedwell with its sky blue flowers has bloomed during warm spells in January before.

corn speedwell flower

Corn speedwell came from Europe, but is wide spread in areas of short grass. These little flowers look like bits of summer sky scattered on the ground during warm spells over the winter.

Dandelions always seem poised to open their yellow flowers as soon as warm weather arrives. Their dark green rosettes dot the yard ready and waiting.

daffodil flower

Planted world wide, daffodils are a symbol of spring yet bloom, not as soon as spring hints appear in winter, but after spring is moving in.

Daffodils are thought of as early spring flowers. As far as I’ve seen, their leaves come up early. The flowers don’t show until spring is battling its way through the dregs of winter.

Shepard Purse flower first flowers

This wild green tries to stay green all winter. It doesn’t take much of a warm spell to encourage Shepard’s Purse to put up a flower stalk. The young leaves make a good addition to salads or stir fries.

Shepard’s purse is a surprise contender. It has rosettes here and there around the yard, mostly in the driveway or near the road. It was blooming late into November until the hard frosts were too frequent.

dandelion first flowers

Another wild green, dandelions put up their flower heads even in late winter, if it gets warm enough. The plants stay green all winter and make good additions to salads and stir fries.

If I wander down along the river, harbinger of spring blooms early. It grows tucked beside trees that warm and protect the roots through the winter.

There are many spring ephemerals. I doubt these are contenders for the year’s first flowers. They tend to wait until spring is trouncing winter before appearing.

Harbinger of Spring first flowers

Harbinger of Spring or Salt and Pepper is one of very few native plants to bloom early, before spring settles in.

Some things must be true for such early bloomers. They must be tough to withstand hard frosts and stand back up in the morning. They must shiver through cold days that bracket the few early spring days and endure.

Most of the flower pictures I am working with are from flowers blooming in the warmth of late spring and all of summer. They are often bigger and showier than those first flowers of the year. Their beauty will be welcome and enjoyed.

The one thing lacking for these later blooms is the sheer joy those first flowers bring. Winter is ending is what these flowers herald. That makes them special, no matter which ones they are.

Find out more about the Ozark seasons in Exploring the Ozark Hills.