Flora & Fauna

Coast Redwood Forest’s Native Rose

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Wood rose or dwarf rose, is known botanically as Rosa gymnocarpa. Photo by hit_the_snow, Flickr Creative Commons

Did you know that the coast redwood forest is home to a native rose? The wood rose or dwarf rose, is known botanically as Rosa gymnocarpa. It grows throughout Western North America and commonly grows on the forest floor of coast redwood forests reaching heights of approximately 4 feet.

In the spring (April – June), you’ll easily notice the plant’s small pink roses blooming among green pinnate leaves. In the fall and winter however, this plant is even more recognizable because the deciduous rose has shed its leaves and the remaining bright red rose hips – or fruits – punctuate the prickly stems. These rose hips are high in Vitamin C and have historically been used a minor source of food by native people. Today, rose hips are occasionally gathered to make tea or reduced into jams or sweet sauces.

Next time you walk through the redwoods, look for our local rose. For more insight into the botany of this plant, check out the USDA plant guide.

Be sure to explore Save the Redwoods League’s Interactive Map of Fun Redwood Facts to learn more about the redwood forest!

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