Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Carolina Rose - Rosa carolina   L.
Members of Rosaceae:
Members of Rosa with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Rosales » Family Rosaceae
DistributionThroughout the Mountains, Piedmont, and the extreme upper Coastal Plain, including the Sandhills and counties bordering the Roanoke River. Seemingly absent from most of the Coastal Plain, south of Bertie County. RAB (1968) says “throughout” the state, and Weakley’s (2018) species map says it is common in the Coastal Plain. These are incorrect: the BONAP map, the NCU Atlas map, and the RAB (1968) range maps show no collection records for this large region (the central and eastern Coastal Plain, plus most of the Sandhills).

Present over nearly all of the Eastern U.S. and southern Canada, ranging south to northern FL and eastern TX. However, it is scarce on the Coastal Plain from NC to FL, and scarce in the lower Coastal Plain of AL, MS, and LA.
AbundanceCommon across most of the mountains, and across all of the Piedmont. Numerous in the northwestern Coastal Plain, but mysteriously absent in most of the Coastal Plain.
HabitatIt occurs in dry, upland soils of open woods, woodland margins, glades, and old fields and pastures, usually where there is little other woody competition.
PhenologyBlooms mainly in May and June, rarely later; fruits from August to October.
IdentificationThis familiar very low/small deciduous shrub grows only to about 1-2 feet tall, rarely taller. It has 5-9 pinnate leaflets that are coarsely serrate on the margins. It can be distinguished from Swamp Rose (R. palustris) by its dry soil habitat, smaller stature, and straight thorns. Both native roses have large pink petals, each solitary flower being about 2 inches across; when in bloom, they can hardly be overlooked. On the other hand, after the leaves drop in the fall, the plant is barely noticeable to the observer.
Taxonomic CommentsThis species has several subspecies named by some references, such as Weakley (2018); he lists not only the nominate subspecies for the state – R. carolina ssp. carolina, but also R. carolina ssp. subserrulata, rare in the mountains and Piedmont. However, subspecies are supposed to represent allopatric entities, not overlapping ones (as varieties can do). Thus, perhaps these should be listed as varieties.

Other Common Name(s)Pasture Rose is a frequent common name; Low Rose
State RankS4 [S5]
Global RankG5
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