Sweet briar (Briar rose, Wild rose)

Rosa rubiginosa

Sweet briar is a perennial woody shrub up to 3m tall.

Stems - usually many (and can be up to several hundred) stems arising from the rootstock; erect or scrambling, up to 3 metres high, green and smooth to brown and somewhat roughened, woody, branched, spreading and sometimes trailing, heavily covered with down-curved prickles up to 1.5 cm long.

Leaves - green, consisting of 5 or 7 shortly stalked leaflets, arranged in two or three pairs with a single leafletat the end of the leaf. Leaflets ovate, 10 to 40 mm long and 5 to 20 mm wide, the base and apex are rounded, the terminal leaflet is usually the largest, margins serrate, with minute scent glands on underside emitting aromatic odour. The leaves have stem-clasping flanges at the base which cradle the leaf stalk.

Flowers - pink or white, 2.5 - 4 cm diameter, on short prickly stalks, occurring in loose clusters at the ends ofstems or branches. Each flower has 5 petals, 8 to 25 mm long, numerous yellowish stamens and five elongated spiny sepals prominent at the base.

Fruit - commonly referred to as a 'hip'. A smooth or hairy and bristly, egg-shaped capsule, 15 to 20 mm long. Whenripe the hips are orange to red to almost black. The sepals often remain attached to the top of the hip. The hips are shed in Autumn after leaf fall.

Seeds - yellow, 4 to 7 mm long and irregularly shaped.

Roots - stout, shallow and extensively spreading.