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Sweet Briar

Rosa rubiginosa

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.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


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 Downy Rose, 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, 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:
3 metres tall
Grassland, hedgerows, riverbanks, riversides, scrub, wasteland, woodland.

Pink, 5 petals
Bright pink flowers with erect sepals, up to 4cm wide. The flowers are stalked. There are numerous yellow stamens on each flower.
The red fruit are called hips and measure 1 or 2cm in diameter. The hips bear erect sepals which fall before the end of the season.
The leaves are toothed, pinnate and (stickily) hairy beneath. Each leaf measures 5 to 9cm in length and bears 5 to 9 leaflets. The stems have several unequally curved or hooked prickles mixed with hair-like 'acicles'.
The leaves are very glandular and strongly apple-scented when crushed.
Other Names:
Briar Rose, Eglantine, Eglantine Rose, Sweet Brier, Sweetbriar Rose.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Rosa rubiginosa, also known as the sweet briar or eglantine rose, is a species of flowering plant in the rose family. It is native to Europe and western Asia, and is widely cultivated in other parts of the world for its attractive flowers and fragrance. The plant is a deciduous shrub with spiny stems and compound leaves, and it produces clusters of small, pink or red flowers in the spring and summer. The flowers are fragrant and are often used in perfumes and other fragrant products. The fruit of the sweet briar is a small, orange-red hip that is rich in vitamin C.


Sweet Briar, also known as Rosa rubiginosa, is a species of rose native to Europe and Asia. This wild rose is well known for its sweet, musky aroma and delicate pink flowers, which bloom in late spring and early summer.

In the wild, Sweet Briar can be found growing in hedgerows, meadows, and along the edges of forests. The shrub can grow up to three meters tall, with arching canes and long, slender leaves that are a pale green color. The flowers, which are about two centimeters in diameter, grow in clusters of two to five and are a light to deep pink color.

Sweet Briar is often grown for its ornamental value, and it is a popular choice for use in cottage gardens, naturalistic plantings, and as a hedge or screen. The shrub is also popular for use in perfumes, as the essential oil extracted from the flowers is rich in fragrance. The oil is used to make perfumes, soaps, and other fragrant products.

In addition to its ornamental and fragrance uses, Sweet Briar is also a source of food and medicine. The hips of the shrub are a rich source of Vitamin C, and they have been used for centuries to treat scurvy and other ailments. The leaves and stems of the shrub are also rich in tannins, and they have been used to treat wounds and infections.

Sweet Briar is easy to grow and care for, and it is generally hardy in most climates. It prefers a sunny location with well-drained soil, and it is drought tolerant once established. The shrub can be propagated from cuttings or by layering, and it can also be grown from seed.

Aside from its ornamental, fragrance and medicinal uses, Sweet Briar has a rich cultural and historical significance. In ancient times, it was believed to have protective and healing powers, and it was often planted near homes to ward off evil spirits. In medieval times, the shrub was used as a symbol of love and devotion, and it was often given as a gift between lovers.

Sweet Briar is also a popular choice for wildlife gardening, as it provides important food and habitat for a variety of species. The flowers are a source of nectar for bees and other pollinators, while the hips provide food for birds and small mammals. In addition, the shrub provides valuable cover and nesting sites for wildlife.

Despite its many benefits, Sweet Briar is considered an invasive species in some areas, particularly in the United States. The shrub has escaped from cultivation and has become established in natural areas, where it can displace native vegetation. Gardeners are encouraged to take care when planting Sweet Briar and to choose appropriate locations to prevent the spread of this species into natural areas.

Sweet Briar is also known for its hardiness and resilience. The shrub is capable of adapting to a variety of soils, including heavy clay and poor, sandy soils. It is also drought resistant and can tolerate cold temperatures, making it a great choice for gardens in harsher climates. However, Sweet Briar should be protected from strong winds, as the canes can become damaged in high winds.

In terms of maintenance, Sweet Briar requires very little care once established. It should be pruned annually in late winter or early spring to encourage new growth and to maintain its shape. The shrub can also be trained into a small tree by removing lower branches and training the trunk to grow taller.

It's worth mentioning that Sweet Briar is also known for its resistance to disease and pests, making it a low-maintenance choice for gardeners. However, it is still important to check for signs of disease and pests periodically, and to take action if necessary to prevent the spread of disease.

Another advantage of Sweet Briar is its ability to naturalize and spread over time, making it a great choice for large gardens or open spaces. The shrub will spread by sending up new shoots from the roots, creating a dense groundcover that provides habitat and food for wildlife.

In conclusion, Sweet Briar is a hardy, low-maintenance shrub that offers a range of benefits to gardeners and the environment. Whether grown for its ornamental value, fragrance, food and medicinal uses, importance to wildlife, or its resilience and adaptability, Sweet Briar is a valuable addition to any garden. Gardeners should take care to plant it responsibly and to choose appropriate locations to prevent the spread of this species into natural areas.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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