Nootka rose, Rosa nutkana  K. Presl var. nutkana. (Rosaceae)


Nootka rose is a deciduous, deep-rooted rhizomatous perennial shrub 1 – 3 m tall with erect or trailing stems reaching its maximum height in 10 years, leaves alternate with paired thorns on the stem at the base of the petiole, 5 or 7 compound with doubly serrate elliptical leaflets, flowers pink 4 – 8 cm wide, fruits pear-shaped hips with persistent calyx contain several long, hairy achenes. (1,3,6)


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Nootka rose occurs at sea level to middle elevations from Alaska south to California and east to western Montana and New Mexico. (1,3,6)





Climate, elevation


Nootka rose is commonly found in moderately dry to moist climates from sea level to mid elevation montane zones. (1, 3, 6) 


Local occurrence


Common throughout Puget Sound in dry to moist open forests, clearings, bluffs, thickets and ravine edges from sea level to mid elevations. (1, 3, 6)


Habitat preferences


Nootka rose occurs on nitrogen-rich, fresh to very moist soils frequently in floodplains, open stream banks, and meadows.  It is sporadic in open-canopy forests with fluctuating groundwater tables.  It is occasionally found on brackish-water sites or sites exposed to coastal salt spray.  Nootka rose grows best at pH ranges of 5.6 to 7.0 thriving on moderately fertile, well-drained clayey-loam, sandy-loam, or sandy soils. (5, 6)


Plant strategy type/successional stage


Nootka rose is tolerant of both sun and shade showing increased growth and fruit production with increasing light. Nootka rose increases in cover with canopy closure, but may produce less fruit. Given it’s propensity for droughty conditions, low to moderate fire tolerance and disappearance with canopy closure it may be considered an early to mid successional stress tolerator, though not specifically sited as such in the literature. (6)


Associated species


Widely associated with a broad range of coniferous and deciduous forest, prairie, coastal and steppe ecosystems. Locally associated with openings and edges of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis), western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), western red cedar (Thuja plicata), logdepole pine (Pinus contorta), black cottonwood (Populus balsamifera), trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides), and willow (Salix spp.) overstories. Also often invasive in remnant western Washington prairie systems and in abandoned pastureland. Common understory plant associates of Nootka rose include common snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus), red-osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera), Pacific ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus) and oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor). (6) 


May be collected as:


Seed – (up to 1 x 105 seeds/kg) ripens in fall when hips turn deep purple-red to orange. Hips should be macerated with water until sufficiently softened and then either blenderized and seed allowed to settle from floating pulp or rubbed through a sieve to separate pulp from seed. Mummified hips may be either crushed and then sieved or given an extended maceration then sieving. (2, 4, 5, 6)  


Cuttings – root crown sprouts and short rhizomatous offshoots can be collected and rooted. Live softwood stakes may also be taken and rooted. (2, 4, 5, 6)


Collection restrictions or guidelines


Not cited in literature however typical conservative collection methods for genetic integrity and minimal ecosystem impact apply.


Seed germination


Nootka rose requires a warm stratification (period not specified) followed by a cold stratification at 40°F for 5 months in a finely milled peat:vermiculite medium for best greenhouse germination. Seeds can also be direct sown in the fall. (2,4)



Seed life (can be stored, short shelf-life, long shelf-life)


Not cited in literature.


Recommended seed storage conditions


Not cited in literature however typical low temp, low humidity conditions may apply.

Propagation recommendations


No specific recommendations are given for rooting cuttings. General rooting techniques should be adequate. Germinate seeds as noted above.


Soil or medium requirements


None specific beyond noted above.


Installation form


Not cited in literature however well rooted cuttings or germinants after the first year should be successful. Direct seeding may also work. (4)


Recommended planting density


USDA Plants Database indicates 800 – 2000 plants per hectare which results in approximately 3 m spacing. Given Nootka rose’s fast growing, thicket forming habit spacing should depend on restoration strategy, closer for invasive exclusion, wider for enhancement of diversity. (5)


Care requirements after installed


Not cited in the literature however occasional watering during dry periods is advised in the first season after outplanting.


Normal rate of growth or spread; lifespan


Nootka rose is a moderately fast grower reaching sexual maturity in 2 – 5 years and maximum height at 10 years. Lifespan has been cited as ‘moderate’ though not given a specific range. (5,6)


Sources cited



(1)     Hitchcock, C. Leo and Cronquist, Arthur. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. 1998. University of Washington Press, Seattle and London.



(2)     Leigh, Michael. Grow Your Own Native Landscape. 1999. Washington State University Cooperative Extension – Thurston County, WA.


(3)     Pojar, Jim and McKinnon, Andy, eds. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska. 1994. Lone Pine Press, British Columbia.


(4)     Rose, Robin, Chachulski, Caryn and Haase, Diane. Propagation of Pacific Northwest Native Plants. 2000. Oregon State University Press, Corvallis.


(5)     USDA, NRCS. 2002. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (http://plants.usda.gov) National Plant Database Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.


(6)     USDA Forest Service Fire Effects Information System (FEIS) database. http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/


Data compiled by


Rodney Pond 05.23.03