I can’t imagine a more “Jekyll and Hyde” plant than the Cherokee Rose (Rosa laevigata). It was the height of spring when I started working at Camp Salmen and thousands of gorgeous, pure white rose blossoms dotted the foliage all around, making the park look like Paradise. All I could think was “how beautiful,” little did I know.
During the course of the year I learned that the plant is an invasive species (another product of China) and has few limits on taking over huge sections of woods. Its ambition seemed maniacal for a plant. Whole trees are enveloped in the stuff; turned into dead trellises by its smothering coverage. Long ropes of the vine arced through the air, sprawling in every direction, branching every few feet to build a web over the woods. Hideous “nests” of the thorny rose occurred here and there, waiting to snag the unsuspecting.</p>
Where the rose gets truly satanic is when you go “man to plant” with it. It is covered with vicious fishhook shaped thorns pointed inward so if anything larger than a mouse blunders into the plant it won’t let go without causing grievous harm. It would make a good natural substitute for concertina wire. Just a brushing encounter with it can leave you cut up. You can imagine the end game of an extreme encounter with it would be entrapment, slow, painful death and decay at its the roots.
<p>Therefore, extreme caution and a careful strategy are necessary. What seems to work is a liberal application of a woody herbicide. About six months later you can hack the brittle, rotting branches to the ground. Go slowly with a pair of long handled clippers and wear protective gloves and clothing for the thorns can still cut. Its not over. Care has to be taken to prevent this Hydra from rearing back up. Chances are it has a well-established root system and will start over again. This may mean seeking out the new starts and digging this alien monster up by its roots.</p>
<p>Admire the springtime beauty of this rose at your hazard – as no doubt, thousands of home and property owners have done in the past - and know the consequences.</p>