"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Nootka Rose keeps on working after bloom fades

By on September 24, 2018 in Columnist with 0 Comments

By Jaana Hatton

“A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose” states a line in the 1913 poem Sacred Emily by Gertrude Stein.

What she means is that things are what they are – period. How befitting it is to the Nootka rose (Rosa Nutkana).

The plant gets its name from the Latin for rose: rosa and the Vancouver Island waterway Nootka Sound. Nootka rose is nothing amazing to look at but rather a thicket when it has grown a few years, and the blooms come and go within a month or so.

It is what it is, but this shrub persists.

Nootka rose is also known as Common, Wild or Bristly Rose.

First, the appearances. This shrub grows both in shade and open areas, by rivers on arid terrain and can be anywhere from one to five feet tall. It is thorny, mind you. It likes soil that is well-drained and fine.

Nootka rose blooms in May-June, producing pink flowers that fill the surrounding air with their sweet scent. The bloom has five petals.

the Nootka rose

Second, the purpose. Once the bloom season is over, the plant has a lot more to offer: from the flowers come the fruit, the rose hips, in early fall. The purplish-red fruit is nutritious and high in vitamin C. Most animals, from squirrels to deer, happily eat it.

It has medicinal and nutritional value to people, as well, as the native tribes realized ages ago. The rose hip can be brewed into a tea or even made into a jam.

Besides being a medicinal and nutritional champion, the Nootka rose can also help in landscape restoration. The shrub spreads by extensive rhizomes, thus helping to contain the soil.

A word of caution: this harmless looking shrub will keep growing and spreading with the intensity of a bulldozer, poking up new shoots all over the landscape. Think twice where you plant your little Nootka starts. They look so cute at first. But remember: a rose is a rose is a rose: it is untamable, it is.

I would like to point out that while exploring in nature, we should not gather but observe and preserve, first and foremost.

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