Common and Scientific Names
Sweet briar, briar rose, wild rose.
Rosa rubiginosa L.
Origin and distribution
Sweet briar is native to Europe and western Asia and northern India. Sweet briar was first recorded in Victoria in the 1850s and had established over large areas by 1917. It is now widespread in a variety of cooler, higher rainfall habitats including farmland, woodlands, and stony rises of the volcanic plains, along roadsides and in other disturbed areas.
Sweet briar establishes in areas of moderate soil fertility where there are low levels of grazing. It reproduces from seed and perennial roots and suckers readily from the crown.
Sweet briar is a perennial woody shrub up to 3m tall.
Stems - usually many (and can be up to several hundred) stems arising from the rootstock; erect or scrambling, up to 3 metres high, green and smooth to brown and somewhat roughened, woody, branched, spreading and sometimes trailing, heavily covered with down-curved prickles up to 1.5 cm long.
Leaves - green, consisting of 5 or 7 shortly stalked leaflets, arranged in two or three pairs with a single leafletat the end of the leaf. Leaflets ovate, 10 to 40 mm long and 5 to 20 mm wide, the base and apex are rounded, the terminal leaflet is usually the largest, margins serrate, with minute scent glands on underside emitting aromatic odour. The leaves have stem-clasping flanges at the base which cradle the leaf stalk.
Flowers - pink or white, 2.5 - 4 cm diameter, on short prickly stalks, occurring in loose clusters at the ends ofstems or branches. Each flower has 5 petals, 8 to 25 mm long, numerous yellowish stamens and five elongated spiny sepals prominent at the base.
Fruit - commonly referred to as a 'hip'. A smooth or hairy and bristly, egg-shaped capsule, 15 to 20 mm long. Whenripe the hips are orange to red to almost black. The sepals often remain attached to the top of the hip. The hips are shed in Autumn after leaf fall.
Seeds - yellow, 4 to 7 mm long and irregularly shaped.
Roots - stout, shallow and extensively spreading.
Infestations can rapidly take over woodland areas. Patches of the weed can impede the movement of grazing animals and cause serious mechanical injury to stock and dogs. Sweet briar provides harbour for rabbits and other pest animals.
Although an undesirable species, sweet briar has some favourable characteristics. The hips are a rich source of vitamin C and can be eaten raw. They are used in wines, sauces and jellies. Sweet briar is of some value to apiarists as a source of pollen.
The plant has little or no value as fodder for stock.
The only other truly naturalised rose plant in Victoria is
Dog rose - Rosa canina L. It can be distinguished from Sweet briar in that it has flower stalks without prickles and the apex of each leaflet is acutely pointed.
Flowers of sweet briar usually appear October to December.
Life cycle and reproduction
Seed production is prolific.
Sweet briar was originally planted widely as an ornamental or hedge plant. Seeds are the only means of dispersal and are most likely to be spread by birds and foxes which eat the fruit and void viable seed. Some spread is probably caused by movement of hips and seedin water.
Sweet briar is a rapid spreader where there is little competition or only light grazing pressure.
Prescribed measures for the control of noxious weeds
- Application of a registered herbicide
- Physical removal
Important information about prescribed measures for the control of noxious weeds.
Other management techniques
Changes in land use practices and spread prevention may also support Bathurst burr management after implementing the prescribed measures above.
- Contact your local Landcare or Friends group for further assistance and advice.
- Call the DEPI Customer Service Centre on 136 186.
- Visit the the Weeds Australia website at: http://www.weeds.org.au
Jeanes, J.A. and Jobson, P.C. (1996) Rosaceae. Pp. 556- 585 in Walsh, N.G. and Entwisle, T.J. (Eds.) Flora of Victoria Volume 3. Dicotyledons, Winteraceae to Myrtaceae. Melbourne, Inkata Press.
Parsons, W.T. and Cuthbertson, E.G. (1992) Noxious Weeds of Australia. Melbourne, Inkata Press
Code, G. and Chambers, A (1997) Weed Control in Pastures. Rutherglen, Department of Natural Resources and Environment.