Edge of the Prairiethe sand prairies and savannas of the Chicago region

    Rosa palustris
    Marsh rose

Two species of native wild rose are common in the sand prairie region south of Chicago. In oak woodlands, savannas and xeric prairies, the pasture rose (Rosa carolina) is a common perennial low growing woody shrub. The taller (up to 8') densely shrubby marsh rose (Rosa palustris) grows in wet areas and is especially common along marsh borders. Generally the marsh rose blooms in July and just a bit later than its lower growing, dry land cousin.

Rosa palustris

Rosa palustris is popular with gardeners, because it's able to grow in very wet and acid locations where most other varieties of rose cannot. The cultivar (Rosa palustris, var. scandens) has double flowers.

If you are working on restoring an area in the Chicago region, please be sure you know the difference between the native and quite desirable Rosa palustris, and the non-native and seriously trouble-making Rosa multiflora before you begin to destroy plants.

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Rosa palustris habitat at Lena Park, in Starke County Indiana. In the foreground, bluejoint grass dominates the seasonally flooded section of the marsh, and in the background quaking aspens dominate the marsh bank. In the transition zone Rosa palustris forms a small thicket, along with willows. [106k]

Rosa palustris with aspens growing behind them, at the edge of a marsh. [81k]

All photographs by Marty Lucas and © Becknell and Lucas Media, Ltd. Students may freely use these images in school reports not for publication without requesting permission. Others, please request permission by writing e-mail to Marty Lucas. Requests for uses aiding in the understanding and appreciation of prairies and native plants are routinely granted. Higher resolution photographs (sans copyright notice) suitable for printing are available for purchase.


Swamp rose at the Illinois State Museum web site.

Rosa palustris at the twin swamps nature preserve in southern Indiana.

Clearing woods gives helpful information on control of the invasive non-native Rosa multiflora, and how to distinguish it from it's desirable native relatives.



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