prairie rose

(Rosa arkansana var. suffulta)

Conservation Status


No image available

  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


Prairie rose (var.suffulta) is a low, perennial shrub that rises on one to a few stems from a root crown, deep roots, and horizontal, underground stems (rhizomes). It can be 12 to 40 tall, though in Minnesota it is rarely more than 18 in height. The roots extend very deep, sometimes more than 10, which makes it very drought resistant. The plant is long lived but in Minnesota the aboveground stems often die back to the base in the fall. In the spring new stems rise from the perennial root crown. It often forms loose colonies.

The stems are erect to spreading or ascending, unbranched or few branched, flexible, round, and hairless. They may be slender or stout, up to 3 16 in diameter. First-year stems and branches are green. They are densely covered with stiff, slender, bristle-like prickles. The prickles are evenly distributed, not paired at the nodes, and are all more or less alike though unequal in size. They are mostly round, not flattened, and mostly 1 32 to long and 1 64 to 1 16wide, with some up to 5 16 long. The base of the prickles are broadened but rarely to more than . The stems become reddish-brown to dark purple in the second year.

The leaves are alternate, deciduous, mostly 2 to 4¼ long, sometimes up to 6¼ long, and 2½to 3 wide. They are on hairy, to 1 3 16 long leaf stalks (petioles). The petioles do not have scattered glands. At the base of the leaf stalk is a pair of leaf-like appendages (stipules) that are fused to the base of the leaf stalk. The stipules are 11 16 to 15 16long and may have a few glands or gland-tipped teeth near the tip. The leaves are pinnately divided into usually 9, sometimes 7 or 11 leaflets.

The leaflets are inversely egg-shaped or occasionally elliptic, to 19 16 long, and 5 16 to ¾ wide. They are angled at the base and usually blunt, sometimes pointed at the tip. The upper surface is dark green, dull, and hairless or nearly hairless. The lower surface is pale green and densely covered with short, fine hairs, at least along the veins. The margins are singly toothed with 7 to 15 sharp, forward-pointing teeth per side.

The inflorescence is sometimes a solitary flower, usually a cluster of 3 to 8 large, showy flowers at the tip of green, current year stems or on lateral branches of woody, previous year’s stems. Each flower is borne on a light green, often hairy, to ¾ long flower stalk. Each flower stalk has 3 modified leaves (bracts).

The flowers are 1½ to 2 in diameter. There are 5 sepals, 5 petals, and numerous stamens, and 26 to 43 pistils. The sepals are green, 9 16 to long, and 1 16 to wide. The cup-like base of the flower (hypanthium) is hairless or nearly hairless. The lower (outer) surface of the sepals usually have stalked glands. The petals are to 1 long and wide. They are light pink to bright pink, rarely white. The stamens have more or less yellow filaments and yellow anthers. The styles are free, not fused together, and do not extend noticeably beyond the mouth of the hypanthium. The mass of stigmas is not elevated and effectively closes the mouth of the hypanthium. The flowers are fragrant.

The fruit is a dry seed capsule (achene) surrounded by a mature floral tube (hip). The rose hip is red, fleshy, nearly spherical to egg-shaped, berry-like, to 7 16long, and ¼to ½ wide. It matures in late July to mid-September. Each hip encloses 12 to 15 achenes. The achenes are to 3 16 long, tan, and densely hairy only along one side. The fruits are distributed by animals.




12 to 40, usually no more than 18


Flower Color


Light to bright pink


Similar Species


Prairie rose (Rosa arkansana var. arkansana) is the western variety of this plant. The leaf undersurface is hairless.

Prickly rose (Rosa acicularis ssp. sayi) leaves have usually 5 or 7, sometimes 9, leaflets. The flowers are usually solitary, sometimes in clusters of 2 or 3.

Smooth rose (Rosa blanda var. blanda) has bristles only on the lower part of the stem. First year stems have no prickles. The leaves have usually 5 or 7, sometimes 9, leaflets. The flowers are borne in clusters of 1 to 4.


Dry. Upland prairies, hill prairies, woodland edges and openings, thickets, roadsides, railroads. Full sun.




Early June to early August




Most sources indicate that this plant spreads by creeping rhizomes. According to USDA Forest Service Fire Effects Information System (FEIS), “… this is not supported by more recent literature.” FEIS does not provide a citation for this statement.


Pests and Diseases


Spiny rose gall wasp (Diplolepis bicolor) produces a large, spine-covered gall that may completely engulf a leaflet.


Prairie rose is the state flower of Iowa and North Dakota.


Distribution Map



4, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  


Rosales (roses, elms, figs, and allies)  


Rosaceae (rose)  
  Subfamily Rosoideae (brambles, roses, strawberries, and allies)  
  Tribe Roseae (rose)  


Rosa (roses)  
  Subgenus Rosa  
  Section Rosa  
  Species Rosa arkansana (prairie rose)  

This is the eastern variety of the species Rosa arkansana. It differs from the western variety, Rosa arkansana var. arkansana, by having a hairy leaf undersurface. The ranges of the two varieties overlap considerably and there is much intergradation of this characteristic throughout the range. Some authorities, including ITIS and Yatskievych, consider this not worthy of taxonomic distinction, and list Rosa arkansana var. suffulta as a synonym of Rosa arkansana.


Subordinate Taxa






Rosa alcea

Rosa conjuncta

Rosa pratincola

Rosa suffulta

Rosa suffulta var. relicta


Common Names


Arkansas rose

dwarf prairie rose

prairie rose

sunshine rose

wild prairie rose













A dry, one-chambered, single-seeded fruit, formed from a single carpel, with the seed attached to the membranous outer layer (wall) only by the seed stalk; the wall, formed entirely from the wall of the superior ovary, does not split open at maturity, but relies on decay or predation to release the contents.



Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.



A cup-like tubular structure of a flower formed from the fused bases of sepals, petals, and stamens, that surrounds the pistil. Its presence is diagnostic of many families, including Rose, Gooseberry, and Pea.



The small swelling of the stem from which one or more leaves, branches, or buds originate.



On plants: The stalk of a leaf blade or a compound leaf that attaches it to the stem. On ants and wasps: The constricted first one or two segments of the rear part of the body.



On a compound leaf, having the leaflets arranged on opposite sides of a common stalk. On a bryophyte, having branches evenly arranged on opposite sides of a stem.



A stiff, sharp, needle-like structure derived from the epidermis or bark of a plant, lacking vascular bundles, and easily removed.



An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.



A small, leaf-like, scale-like, glandular, or rarely spiny appendage found at the base of a leaf stalk, usually occurring in pairs and usually dropping soon.





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