Mutant multiflora rose (not that virus)

Our small farm in Pennsylvania is, of course, overrun with multiflora rose. I try to cut back our invasives and feed them to our goats*, but the thorns on that plant make the job… extremely unpleasant. There’s a lot of swearing. Yesterday, however, I found an enormously long single cane (15+ feet long) without a single thorn. Everything else about it looked clearly like multiflora rose, except the lack of thorns. I didn’t post an observation largely because it’s a sort of “absence of evidence” problem, unless I post dozens of pictures covering the entire cane, which doesn’t seem like a great idea. But I would love to know if anyone else has seen this.

*Goats eat that plant enthusiastically, thorns and all, which amazes me.


Multiflora rose can sometimes lack thorns. It couldn’t hurt to submit, you can use up to 20 pics, if you think it’s needed. The unusual make great observations. The community can decide about the evidence.


maybe the plant somehow ‘knows’ that it isn’t worth investing energy in creating thorns in a core of a giant patch where it’s already protected elsewhere.


Interesting! I had no idea thornless plants occurred occasionally. And yes, it was in a dense thicket I hadn’t worked on before, and this particular cane was maybe prioritizing access to sunlight over thorn production. Maybe I will post it - with a reasonable number of photos. ;-)

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Thornless multifloras are naturally occurring chimeras, essentially two genotypes sharing the same body. As I understand it, if you were to cut the rose into pieces, some fragments would regenerate back into thornless roses and others would grow thorns like normal. I found one a few weeks ago on a brush clearing workday, but made the mistake of showing it to the burnmaster first, who promptly incinerated it before I could take a picture.

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Thanks so much for this explanation! So it doesn’t sound like the multiflora on our property will spontaneously and entirely convert to thornless. Well, a girl can hope. ;-)

I am laughing about the image of the burnmaster yanking the plant out of your hand, throwing it on the burn pile and looking at you like “What did you expect? I burn things.”

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