The sweet scent of an invasive species


The last week and a half or so, I’ve been noticing multiflora rose blooming all over the place. It’s got white flowers and can be found on roadsides, along fields’ edges, and other semi-open places. Looks like this:

Multiflora is a non-native species from eastern Asia. I first learned about it several years ago when we hosted the goats of Goatbusters–an Afton-based company that clears overgrown land using eco-friendly goats–for a month or so. Turned out multiflora rose was one of the major species that the goats were munching on our property. We have tons of it.

When it blooms, it becomes obvious how widespread it is, across our land and our county and this region generally. It’s akin to what happens when the dogwoods bloom earlier in the spring: You drive around and think, Another one! As the blooming period progresses, you develop a sense of a certain species as a key member of the local ecosystem, just by virtue of seeing it everywhere you look.

Of course, dogwood is a native. We can be unreservedly glad to see it proliferate. Multiflora rose, on the other hand, is considered a pest (though I don’t claim to know, in detail, how it impacts native plants or birds or insects. Maybe someone else can chime in?).

Pest or not, it smells absolutely wonderful. And it’s not a bad-looking plant. I mean, it is a rose.

We live in a complicated world, ecologically speaking. Sometimes there is beauty even in the breakdowns.