Origin: Central & Western North America
Improvement status: Wild
Seeds per packet: ~22
BOTANICAL SAMPLE - NOT GERMINATION TESTED
Life cycle: Perennial
After selling the east Asian rugosa rose for many years, we decided it was time to add a native rose to the catalogue, and the wild prairie rose fit the bill. Prairie rose is a very pretty pink-flowered perennial that grows 2-4ft tall. Both the fruit and the peeled shoots are edible. The flowers, fruits, roots, stems, and bark all make good tea. The seeds are even a good source of Vitamin E!
Native to a broad section of north-central North America, including much of Canada, as well as the Great Plains and Upper Midwest, it has scattered populations much farther afield, including Texas, New York, and Massachusetts. Praire rose is the state flower of Iowa and North Dakota. Hardy to Zone 4, prairie rose can thrive in a range of soils, including very poor soil. Once established it's super drought resistant (and fire resistant) and will create a low semi-open thicket by spreading via rhizome. Its fragrant flowers persist over a long period during the summer, visited by a range of beneficial native insects, and they are followed in the fall by pretty round rosehips that are relished by birds and other animals.
Plants for a Future details a range of medicinal uses for prairie rose: "The root is haemostatic, stimulant and tonic. A compound decoction of the root has been used in the treatment of bleeding wounds, fits and convulsions. The root has been used in the treatment of eye complaints. The fruit of many members of this genus is a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C and E, flavanoids, and other bio-active compounds. It is also a fairly good source of essential fatty acids, which is fairly unusual for a fruit. It is being investigated as a food that is capable of reducing the incidence of cancer and also as a means of halting or reversing the growth of cancers."
Our seed comes from Prairie Moon Nursery in Winona, Minnesota.
GROWING TIPS: Prairie rose, like other roses, is not the easiest to germinate from seed, but if you follow the instructions you should have plenty of success. Seeds need both scarification and stratification, and they have double dormancy to boot. If you know where you want them to grow and it's an appropriate place, you can simply fall plant the seeds with no treatment at all — and expect them to sprout two springs later. If you want to keep a closer eye on the seeds and seedlings, the process is more extense. First you'll need to scarify them by rubbing the seeds between two pieces of sandpaper. This weakens the seed coat and allows water to get in. Next you'll want to cold-moist stratify the seeds by putting them in lightly moist sand and keeping in the fridge for 60-90 days. Then remove them from the fridge and keep them in a warm place (room temperature will do) for another 60-90 days. Then return them to the fridge for another 60-90 days. After that the should be ready to sprout!