Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Originally from Europe and Asia, Dog Rose (Rosa canina) is a scrambling, prickly shrub growing to 1–3 or 5 m tall, with leaves with 5–7 leaflet 1.5–4 cm long and pink flowers 2–5 cm across.
  • Has a scattered distribution in south-eastern Australia and south-western Western Australia.
  • It invades native degraded pastures, bushland, open woodland, riparian habitats, roadsides, fence-lines, and pastures, mostly in temperate lowlands or low mountain slopes.
  • It can reduce land productivity and restrict stock movement and access to water.
  • Dense patches can harbor pest species such as rabbits.
  • The seeds produce an allelopathic compound that can inhibit germination in other species.
  • Can be controlled by physical, mechanical means and herbicides.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Dog Rose (Rosa canina) is a scrambling to climbing prickly shrub growing from 1–3 m in height to 5 m. The stems are smooth and hairless (glabrous), and armed with woody stout strongly recurved prickles up to 10 mm long. The leaves are made up of 5–7 ovate (shaped like a section through the long axis of an egg and attached by the wider end) or oval (elliptic) leaflets, each 1.5–4 cm long, with serrated toothed margins, rounded bases and acute pointed tips. The leaves are either hairless above and below or have a sparse covering of hairs, normally no or very few glandular hairs (hairs with glands and the tip).

The white to pink flowers are 2–5 cm across, and are borne in small clusters (corymbs) or individually. The flowers have 5 serrated or lobed sepals that become reflexed after flowering, and five petals that area obovate (shaped like a section through the long axis of an egg and attached by the thinner end) to sub-orbicular (almost rounded), 0.8- 2 cm long, with many stamens (male reproductive organs) and many free styles (male reproductive organs).

The fruit is a dark red oval or globular capsule (also referred to as a hip), 10–20 mm long, hairless, and topped with scarcely persistent sepals. The capsules contain numerous yellowish irregular seeds, 4.5–6 mm long (Symon 1986; Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001; Navie 2004).

For further information and assistance with identification of Dog Rose contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour

Pink, White

Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Dog Rose prefers well drained and moderate to high fertility soils. This species invades native bushland, open woodland, river flats, roadsides, fence-lines, waste areas, and pastures, mainly in temperate lowlands and lower mountain slopes (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001; Navie 2004).

Are there similar species?

Dog Rose can be confused with Sweet Briar (Rosa rubiginosa) and Macartney Rose (R. bracteata). It can be distinguished from both of these species by its hairless (glabrous) flower stalks and sepals, and hairless fruit. The flower stalks and sepals of the two other species are covered with glandular hairs (R. rubiginosa) or dense hairs (R. bracteata), and their fruit are bristly at the base (R. rubiginosa) or densely hairy (R. bracteata) (Muyt 2001).

These species can be distinguished by the following differences:

dog rose (Rosa canina) has hairless (i.e. glabrous) flower stalks and sepals. Its leaves are mostly hairless with leaflets that have pointed tips. Its flowers are pale pink to bright pink in colour and its fruit are hairless (i.e. glabrous) and unadorned, except for the remains of the sepals.

Sweet briar (Rosa rubiginosa) has flower stalks and sepals with sticky (i.e. glandular) hairs or spines. Its leaves have sticky (i.e. glandular) hairs on their undersides, and along their margins, and the leaflets have almost rounded tips. Its flowers are pink or white in colour and the bases of its fruit are sometimes adorned with bristles and/or small spines.

Macartney rose (Rosa bracteata) has flower stalks and sepals that are densely covered with hairs or spines. Its leaves are mostly hairless, except for a few hairs on their midrib. Its flowers are white in colour and its fruit are densely hairy (i.e. pubescent).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

A weed of native bushland, open woodlands, roadsides, fence-lines, waste areas, waterways, hedgerows and pastures that is found mainly in temperate regions (DPI NSW 2019). 

Agriculture: Dog Rose can compete with neighbouring pasture plants, significantly reducing productivity. Young plants and suckers can be suppressed by rabbit and stock grazing but mature woody plants are highly unpalatable to stock and reduce the presence and productivity of desirable pasture species through competition. Its prickly nature can also restrict stock movement and access to water, and deter grazing close to clumps. The dense patches can harbour pest species such as rabbits (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001) and it is also a potential biosecurity risk from their ability to host fruit fly.  It is also a pest plant of pine plantations and roadsides.

Native ecosystems: The seeds of Dog Rose are known to have allelopathic qualities, producing an pyrone derivative that can inhibit germination in other species. In bushland it may prevent native seedling germination, out-compete native shrub species, and inhibit overstorey regeneration (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001) and over a period of time, dominate the native understory. Known to invade native grasslands, grassy woodland and watercourses where it displaces native shrubs and ground layer species. Commonly seen growing along native roadside corridors out-competing native plants. 

How does it spread?

Dog Rose is mainly spread locally due to seedling growth from seeds dropped at the base of established clumps, as well as by vegetative growth from the root stock. Spread can also occur via the movement of seed stuck on the feet or fur of animals. Frugivorous birds may be responsible for some seed dispersal (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001).

What is its history in Australia?

Dog Rose is used widely as an ornamental plant, and was probably introduced into Australia for this purpose (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001). It was recorded as naturalised in South Australia in 1907 (State Herbarium of South Australia 2008; AVH 2021).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

The following control methods are those used for Sweet Briar (Rosa rubiginosa), and Dog Rose (Rosa canina) should be treated in the same manner.

Non-chemical control: Smaller plants can be effectively removed by hand removal or grubbing (Muyt 2001) although this method an be labour intensive and time consuming. Established plants can be removed by hand, grubbing, bulldozing, or tractor, and their removal is more effective when the ground is wet (Clements et al. 2005). The crown of larger plants should be fully removed to prevent regrowth, and fruits should be disposed of safely (Muyt 2001). Deep cultivation can also be effective on arable land, and will expose and kill much of the root system, but follow-up cultivation in summer will be necessary to eradicate any remaining roots, and in autumn to prevent seedling growth (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001). Cultivation can, however, be problematic if plants are large and well established (Clements et al. 2005). Goats and sheep can be used to control larger infestation, and goats can destroy larger plants over time (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001). Goats are known to provide continuous pressure to the plants that they have a tendency to prefer over many pasture species. An advantage of using goats to control both species is that they can also provide a cash return.

Chemical control: Larger plants can be treated with herbicide with a cut-and-paint method, preferably before the fruits ripen in summer and autumn.  Techniques such as ‘cut and paint’ are useful for small numbers of plants. Follow-up treatments may be necessary to prevent regrowth. Alternatively, larger infestations may be foliar sprayed with non-selective or selective herbicides, applied near to the flowering period, and when the plant is actively growing. Selective herbicides appear to be more effective. Cleared sites should always be monitored regularly and any regrowth controlled with follow-up herbicide treatment (Muyt 2001). For removal of this plant from environmentally sensitive areas, a basal bark herbicide treatment can be used (see Clements et al. 2005).

Please see the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for chemical information http://www.apvma.gov.au

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Seeds of Dog Rose can germinate at any time of the year given adequate soil moisture, but germination occurs mainly during autumn and spring. The seedlings are slow growing and easily damaged, and usually establish best in protected places such as roadsides and hedgerows. The young plants grow slowly for 2–3 years before flowering. Dog Rose is deciduous, losing its leaves in winter with new leaves produced in early spring. Flowering occurs in late spring and early summer, with the fruit maturing in late summer (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Dog Rose has a very scattered distribution in south-eastern Australia and the wetter areas of south-western Western Australia, and is mainly found near urbanised areas or settlements. It occurs throughout much of Tasmania, in parts of the Central Western Slopes and South Western Plains of New South Wales, in the Grampians of Victoria, and on the Adelaide Plains and Mount Lofty Ranges and Mid-Murray district of South Australia (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001; Navie 2004; Hussey et al. 2007).

Where does it originate?

Dog Rose is native to parts of western Asia and all of Europe, and is a common hedging species across Europe. It has become established in most of the temperate world (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the Agricultural Sleeper List?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Names And Taxonomy

Main scientific name

Rosa canina

Other scientific names (synonyms)?


Does it have other known common name(s)?

Common Briar, Dogbriar, Dog rose

Blackberry – a community-driven approach in Victoria

Blackberry the weed (Rubus fruticosus aggregate) was first introduced to Australia by European settlers in the mid-1800s as a fruit. It was recognised as a weed by mid-1880s. Blackberry is a serious issue across Australia. It is estimated that blackberry infests approximately 8.8 million hectares of land at an estimated cost of $103 million in annual control and production losses.

Read Case Study