Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wild Roses

The wild roses, Rosa nutkana, are just beginning to bloom. There are literally acres of them on the island. When we first moved here we had to grub them out of the yard to beat back the jungle. They can grow 10 feet tall and spread by root suckers. Sort of like very tall quack grass with thorns.

They do redeem themselves in the spring. As soon as the new foliage opens the island is full of the rich spicy, rose smell of the plants, because not only are the flowers scented but so is the foliage. Particularly in the evening when the air cools down and is moist the scent is almost overpowering. The cats come in smelling like roses when they prowl under them in the spring. I used to gather big 5 gallon buckets full of the petals to make potpourris and my hands and hair and clothes would be full of the scent. Interestingly, none of the reference books I've ever seen mention this scented foliage characteristic of the plant although other wild species with scented foliage like Rosa eglantaria are listed as having scented foliage. The species grows all across North America and I wonder if all the plants have the scented foliage or if this is unique to this area.

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