Rosa rubiginosa

Common Name: sweet briar rose 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Rosaceae
Native Range: Europe, northern Africa, western Asia
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 6.00 to 10.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 10.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Pink
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Fragrant
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Fruit: Showy
Other: Thorns


Best grown in organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained loams in full sun. Best flowering and disease resistance occur in full sun. Water deeply and regularly (mornings are best). Avoid overhead watering. Good air circulation promotes vigorous and healthy growth and helps control foliar diseases. Summer mulch helps retain moisture, keeps roots cool and discourages weeds. Remove and destroy diseased leaves from plants, as practicable, and clean up and destroy dead leaves from the ground around the plants both during the growing season and as part of a thorough cleanup during winter (dormant season). Prune as needed in late winter.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Rosa rubiginosa, commonly called sweet briar or eglantine rose, is a European species rose that has escaped gardens and naturalized along roadsides, in pastures and in open areas in many parts of North America including Missouri. It is perhaps most noted for its aromatic dark green foliage that releases a sweetly fragrant perfume (suggestive of apples) after a rainstorm or when brushed with the hand. It is a vase-shaped, dense, suckering shrub that typically grows to 6-10’ tall. Long arching canes are heavily thorned. Spicily-fragrant, five-petaled, clear pink flowers (to 2” diameter) with white centers appear in late spring to early summer (late May-June in St. Louis). Flowers are followed by abundant orange-red hips that ripen in fall and usually persist well into winter. Aromatic young spring foliage produces the best fragrance. This species synonymous with Rosa eglanteria.

Genus name comes from the Latin name for rose.

Specific epithet means rusty.


Roses are generally susceptible to a large number of disease problems, the most common of which are black spot, powdery mildew and rust. Although good cultural practices are the first line of defense in disease control, regular preventative fungicide applications throughout the growing season are often required, particularly in humid climates with regular rainfall such as the St. Louis area. Watch for rose rosette and virus problems, which require more aggressive action. Potential insect problems include aphids, beetles, borers, scale, thrips, leafhoppers and mites. If natural predators fail to control insect populations adequately, then insecticide applications may become necessary. Rosa rubiginosa has good natural resistance to the common foliar diseases.


Excellent as a specimen or in small groups. Group near a patio to enjoy the fragrance. Naturalize in open woodland gardens. Shrub borders. Makes an impenetrable hedge for property lines.