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For the love of Beach Roses

Beauty, fragrance, and medicinal qualities
Beauty, fragrance, and medicinal qualities
Jane Beecher Russo

Beach roses.... people either love these indigenous flowering blossoms, or despise their invasive nature. Beach roses are a member of the Genus Rosa, which is made up of straight and climbing prickly shrubs including roses. The species classification is Rugosa, which means Japanese Rose. Thereby giving the beach rose it's scientific name of Rosa Rugosa.

Rosa Rugosa in bloom
Jane Beecher Russo

The name Beach Rose has existed for over a century, since the plant began showing up along the northern east coast of the United States. It is believed to have been brought to America from North Korea, China, and Japan, where it grew naturally. It is now considered native to Maine, and thrives under conditions where there is sandy soil and an environment with large swings in changing temperatures. Conceptually, the beach rose has been a friend to the coastline, embedding itself in sand dunes and protecting the dunes from erosion. It also thrives in cliffs, rocky ledge conditions and river embankments., In North America, it is now a hardy plant, growing wild in states along the eastern seaboard as far south as Virginia, west to Illinois, and north throughout the New England states, into eastern Canada, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

Because the beach rose loves the sandy soil along Maine's coastline, it is found along most of our shoreline roads and is included in many landscaping designs. In areas directly along the coast, it's grows wild wherever it can gain a hold in the soil, and is considered by some to be a pest because of it's invasive prickly nature. It is difficult to keep under control once it is introduced to the sandy soil it loves so much because, unlike other shrub-like plants such as Rhododendrons or Azaleas, the root ball of the Beach Rose travels far beneath the soil and will spread easily. It grows to an average height of 4 to 6 feet.

The roses bloom throughout the summer season in Maine, and can flower in either white, dark pink, or light pink blossoms. Along with the rose blossom, the Beach Rose also produces a 1 inch diameter tomato-like fruit, referred to as rose plums or rose hips. Rose hips begin to grow after the flowers have pollinated, and ripens in mid to late summer. Rose hips are commonly dried to use in herbal teas, oils, marmalade, jams, jellies, and even rose hip wine. Medicinal properties include vitamin A, B, C, essential fatty oils, lycopene, and antioxidant flavonoids. It has even been found to have anti inflammatory benefits for persons suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

Local Mainers and visitors to our state are encouraged to get out and enjoy the beauty of the coastline with the Beach Rose in the foreground. The Rosa Rugosa will not disappoint.

All in all the Beach Rose provides far more positive qualities and benefits than any negative impact it might impose on the coastal communities in Maine.

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