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Southern Downy Rose

Rosa tomentosa

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Rosaceae (Rose)
Also in this family:
Acute Leaf-lobed Lady's-mantle, Alpine Cinquefoil, Alpine Lady's-mantle, Ampfield Cotoneaster, Arran Service Tree, Arran Whitebeam, Barren Strawberry, Bastard Agrimony, Bastard Service Tree, Bearberry Cotoneaster, Bird Cherry, Blackthorn, Bloody Whitebeam, Bramble, Bristol Whitebeam, Broad-leaved Whitebeam, Broadtooth Lady's-mantle, Bronze Pirri-pirri-bur, Bullace Plum, Bullate Cotoneaster, Burnet Rose, Catacol Whitebeam, Caucasian Lady's-mantle, Cheddar Whitebeam, Cherry Laurel, Cherry Plum, Chinese Photinia, Cloudberry, Clustered Lady's-mantle, Common Agrimony, Common Hawthorn, Common Lady's-mantle, Common Medlar, Common Ninebark, Common Whitebeam, Crab Apple, Creeping Chinese Bramble, Creeping Cinquefoil, Crimean Lady's-mantle, Cultivated Apple, Cultivated Pear, Cut-leaved Blackberry, Damson, Devon Whitebeam, Dewberry, Diel's Cotoneaster, Dog Rose, Doward Whitebeam, Dropwort, Elm-leaved Bramble, English Whitebeam, Entire-leaved Cotoneaster, False Salmonberry, Field Rose, Firethorn, Fodder Burnet, Fragrant Agrimony, Franchet's Cotoneaster, Garden Lady's-mantle, Garden Strawberry, Giant Meadowsweet, Glaucous Dog Rose, Goatsbeard Spiraea, Gough's Rock Whitebeam, Great Burnet, Greengage Plum, Grey-leaved Whitebeam, Hairless Lady's-mantle, Hairy Lady's-mantle, Hautbois Strawberry, Himalayan Blackberry, Himalayan Cotoneaster, Himalayan Whitebeam, Hoary Cinquefoil, Hollyberry Cotoneaster, Hupeh Rowan, Hybrid Cinquefoil, Hybrid Geum, Irish Whitebeam, Japanese Cherry, Japanese Quince, Japanese Rose, Jew's Mallow, Juneberry, Lancaster Whitebeam, Late Cotoneaster, Least Lady's-mantle, Least Whitebeam, Leigh Woods Whitebeam, Ley's Whitebeam, Liljefor's Whitebeam, Littleleaf Cotoneaster, Llangollen Whitebeam, Llanthony Whitebeam, Lleyn Cotoneaster, Loganberry, Many-flowered Rose, Margaret's Whitebeam, Marsh Cinquefoil, Meadowsweet, Midland Hawthorn, Mougeot's Whitebeam, Mountain Ash, Mountain Avens, Mountain Sibbaldia, Moupin's Cotoneaster, No Parking Whitebeam, Ocean Spray, Orange Whitebeam, Pale Bridewort, Pale Lady's-mantle, Parsley Piert, Pirri-pirri-bur, Plymouth Pear, Portuguese Laurel, Purple-flowered Raspberry, Quince, Raspberry, Rock Cinquefoil, Rock Lady's-mantle, Rock Whitebeam, Round-leaved Dog Rose, Round-leaved Whitebeam, Rum Cherry, Russian Cinquefoil, Salad Burnet, Sargent's Rowan, Scannell's Whitebeam, Service Tree, Sharp-toothed Whitebeam, Sherard's Downy Rose, Shining Lady's-mantle, Ship Rock Whitebeam, Short-styled Rose, Shrubby Cinquefoil, Silver Lady's-mantle, Silverweed, Slender Parsley Piert, Slender-spined Bramble, Small-flowered Sweetbriar, Small-leaved Sweetbriar, Soft Downy Rose, Somerset Whitebeam, Sorbaria, Sour Cherry, Southern Lady's-mantle, Spineless Acaena, Spring Cinquefoil, St. Lucie's Cherry, Steeplebush, Stern's Cotoneaster, Stirton's Whitebeam, Stone Bramble, Sulphur Cinquefoil, Swedish Service Tree, Swedish Whitebeam, Sweet Briar, Symond's Yat Whitebeam, Tengyueh Cotoneaster, Thimbleberry, Thin-leaved Whitebeam, Tibetan Cotoneaster, Tormentil, Trailing Tormentil, Tree Cotoneaster, Trefoil Cinquefoil, Twin-cliffs Whitebeam, Two-spined Acaena, Wall Cotoneaster, Water Avens, Waterer's Cotoneaster, Waxy Lady's-mantle, Welsh Cotoneaster, Welsh Whitebeam, White Burnet, White's Whitebeam, White-stemmed Bramble, Wild Cherry, Wild Pear, Wild Plum, Wild Service Tree, Wild Strawberry, Willmott's Whitebeam, Willow-leaved Bridewort, Willow-leaved Cotoneaster, Wineberry, Wood Avens, Wye Whitebeam, Yellow-flowered Strawberry
Deciduous shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
150 centimetres tall
Gardens, grassland, heathland, hedgerows, moorland, parks, scrub, woodland.

Pink, 5 petals
Pink flowers but occasionally white. The petals are notched, as with other Roses. Roses are hard to identify by flowers alone but this species is long-stalked and the similar-looking Northern Downy Rose is short-stalked. As its name implies, Northern Downy Rose is most common in the North of the UK. Pollinated by bees.
Red rose hips. Globular and bristly. The sepals are down-turned and fall earlier than the other UK Downy Rose species.
Pale or greyish-green pinnately toothed leaves. Leaf bases have stipules. The prickles on the branches are slender and very straight. Rare in Scotland, fairly frequent elsewhere in the UK.
The flowers are faintly fragrant.
Other Names:
Downy Rose, Fuzzy Rose, Harsh Downy Rose, Whitewoolly Rose.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Rosa tomentosa, also known as the "Downy Rose" or "Fuzzy Rose", is a species of rose that is native to China and Japan. It is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to 6 feet tall and wide. The leaves are dark green, glossy and densely pubescent (fuzzy) and the flowers are small, pink or white and fragrant. The plant blooms in spring and fall. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. The plant is not widely cultivated but it is a good option for hedging and it is known for its resistance to pests and diseases.


The Southern Downy Rose, scientifically known as Rosa tomentosa, is a beautiful and unique species of rose native to the southern United States. This beautiful and distinctive plant is a member of the Rosaceae family and is also known by the common names woolly rose or cotton rose.

One of the most striking features of the Southern Downy Rose is its foliage. The leaves are dark green, oval-shaped, and densely covered in small hairs that give them a woolly or fuzzy appearance. These hairs serve a protective function, helping to protect the plant from predators and harsh weather conditions.

In addition to its striking foliage, the Southern Downy Rose also produces beautiful pink flowers that bloom from late spring to early summer. The flowers are typically about 2 inches in diameter and have five petals, each with a distinctive heart shape. The blooms are also mildly fragrant, adding to their appeal.

The Southern Downy Rose is a hardy and resilient plant that can thrive in a range of growing conditions. It prefers well-drained soils and plenty of sunlight, but can also tolerate some shade. This makes it an excellent choice for gardens in the southern United States, where the climate can be hot and humid.

There are many ways to incorporate the Southern Downy Rose into your landscape design. It can be used as a border plant or as a focal point in a garden bed. It can also be trained to climb trellises or fences, or grown in containers on a patio or balcony. The plant is relatively low-maintenance and requires only occasional pruning to maintain its shape and size.

In addition to its aesthetic qualities, the Southern Downy Rose also has some practical uses. The plant has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including skin irritations and digestive issues. The leaves and petals can also be brewed into a fragrant tea that is said to have a calming effect.

The Southern Downy Rose is also a favorite among gardeners because it is resistant to most pests and diseases. This means that it requires minimal maintenance and can thrive in a variety of growing conditions without the need for chemical treatments or pesticides. This makes it a great choice for those who want to grow a beautiful garden while also being mindful of the environment.

When planting the Southern Downy Rose, it is important to prepare the soil properly. The plant prefers well-drained soils with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. It is also important to plant the rose in an area that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.

One of the great things about the Southern Downy Rose is that it can be propagated easily from stem cuttings. This means that gardeners can create new plants from existing ones without the need for seeds. To propagate the plant, simply take a stem cutting and plant it in a pot filled with moist soil. Keep the soil moist and in a few weeks, the cutting will begin to root and grow into a new plant.

In addition to its use in traditional medicine, the Southern Downy Rose has also been used in culinary applications. The petals and hips of the plant can be used to make a delicious and nutritious tea that is rich in vitamin C. The hips can also be used to make jellies, jams, and syrups.

The Southern Downy Rose also has cultural significance. It has been used by Native Americans for centuries as a traditional medicine, as well as a source of food and dye. The Cherokee people used the plant to treat a variety of ailments, including fever, stomach issues, and sore throat. They also used the petals to make a red dye that was used to color textiles and basketry.

Today, the Southern Downy Rose is still valued for its medicinal properties. Its leaves and petals are believed to have anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, and are used in herbal remedies to treat skin irritations, wounds, and digestive issues. The plant is also used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation and calmness.

The Southern Downy Rose has also inspired artists and writers. The plant's beauty and resilience have been the subject of poems, stories, and paintings throughout history. Its woolly foliage and delicate blooms make it a favorite among artists and nature lovers, who are drawn to its unique and charming appearance.

In recent years, the Southern Downy Rose has also become popular among sustainable and eco-conscious gardeners. The plant is native to the southern United States and requires little to no chemical treatments or fertilizers to thrive. This makes it an ideal choice for those who want to create a beautiful and healthy garden without harming the environment.

In conclusion, the Southern Downy Rose is a plant that is both beautiful and practical. Its unique appearance, practical uses, and cultural significance make it a favorite among gardeners, artists, and nature enthusiasts. Whether grown for its aesthetic qualities or its medicinal and culinary applications, the Southern Downy Rose is a plant that is sure to bring joy and delight to anyone who encounters it.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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