Show of snow-white flowers

Thu, 06/17/2021 - 4:30pm

To the Editor,
Perhaps most “islanders” and visitors noticed the outstanding display of the white flowering Japanese Rose – better known as the multiflora rose. Back in the 1940s and the early 50s this was touted and advertised as a “living hedge,” recommended by the United States Conservation Service for hedge-row planting, where it not only affords an excellent medium for holding soil in place, but also is a perfect barrier and source of food for wild life. A large number of folks on the island must have been intrigued by the proponents of this plant since it has obviously spread throughout
the island. This is most likely one of the greatest mistakes in the horticultural industry as one can see.

All too often conservationists are concerned with the invasion of plants that have a similar attribute of possibly becoming invasive in our beloved landscape but I don’t think that there is one choice that can outgrow the multiflora rose. Yet I have not seen any concern with the multiflora rose.
To quote from “Shrubs and Vines for American Gardens,” by Donald Wyman, past director of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University: “Perhaps the most vigorous of all rose species, this splendid species is being used more and more and more as an ornamental. Although its flowers are small and white, they are produced in large quantities so that when the bush is in full bloom it is literally covered with blossoms. These are followed by myriads of small red berries which remain on the plant throughout the winter and afford food for the birds, so much so that this species is being widely planted for this reason alone.” Note that as the birds feed upon the berries, they then, at their discretion drop the resulting seed from the berry and who knows how many new plants result from this activity.
“One other important asset is its definite arching habit of growth. A mature plant may easily be eight feet high and 12 feet across, a dense thicket of spiny growth, etc. etc.”
This is just a bit of information that I thought might explain just what the past weeks of show of snow- white flowers was
all about.

Fred Nelson
Beach Avenue