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Burnet Rose

Rosa spinosissima

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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, 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, 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:
120 centimetres tall
Grassland, heathland, hedgerows, meadows, mountains, rocky places, sand dunes, scrub, sea cliffs, seaside, woodland.

White, 5 petals
The flowers of Burnet Rose (Rosa spinosissima) are typically small and delicate, with five petals and a sweet fragrance. They are usually white or pale pink in colour.
The fruit is called a hip, or rose hip and is purplish-black, up to 1.5cm in diameter. The rose hips are filled with numerous seeds. The Burnet Rose is named after the colour of its fruit. Burnet means 'dark brown'. This plant is easy to identify because of the colour of its fruit.
The leaves of Burnet Rose are small and dark green in colour. They are typically composed of several leaflets and have serrated edges.
The fragrance of Burnet Rose is sweet and delicate, reminiscent of fresh floral notes with subtle hints of citrus. It carries a gentle, lingering scent that is both inviting and uplifting.
Other Names:
Scotch Rose, Scots Rose, Scottish Rose.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Rosa spinosissima, also known as the "Burnet Rose" or "Scotch Rose", is a species of rose that is native to Europe and Asia. It is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to 3-4ft tall and wide. The leaves are dark green, pinnate, and have small spines along the edges. The flowers are small, single, and pink or white in color. They are followed by small, red or orange hips (seed capsules). The plant blooms in spring to early summer. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. The plant is not widely cultivated as an ornamental plant but it is known for its hardiness and resistance to pests and diseases, and it is often used as a hedging plant or for erosion control on slopes.


The Burnet Rose, also known as Rosa spinosissima, is a beautiful and hardy species of wild rose that is native to much of Europe and western Asia. This rose is particularly well adapted to survive in harsh environments, including rocky hillsides and windswept coastal areas, making it a popular choice for ornamental gardening as well as for use in wild landscaping.

One of the most striking features of the Burnet Rose is its stunning pink or white blooms, which typically appear in late spring or early summer. These delicate flowers have a slightly sweet fragrance and attract a wide range of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and other insects. The Burnet Rose is also known for its prickly stems, which are covered in thorns that can range from small and fine to large and formidable.

In addition to its beauty, the Burnet Rose has a number of practical uses as well. The plant's leaves and flowers can be used to make a fragrant and healthful tea, which has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including colds, fevers, and digestive issues. The rose hips, which are the fruit of the plant, are also rich in vitamin C and can be used to make a tasty and nutritious tea or jelly.

One of the reasons why the Burnet Rose is such a popular choice for landscaping is that it is very easy to grow and care for. This plant thrives in well-drained soil and full sun, but it can also tolerate some shade and a wide range of soil types. It is also relatively drought-tolerant and can withstand cold temperatures and harsh winds, making it a great choice for gardens in colder climates.

If you are considering adding a Burnet Rose to your garden or landscape, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, be sure to choose a location that gets plenty of sunlight and has well-drained soil. Second, be prepared to deal with the plant's thorns, which can be quite sharp and can cause irritation or injury if not handled carefully. Finally, keep in mind that the Burnet Rose can spread fairly quickly, so you may need to prune it back regularly to keep it under control.

The Burnet Rose has a rich history and cultural significance, particularly in Europe, where it has been used for a variety of purposes for centuries. In traditional herbal medicine, the Burnet Rose was believed to have a wide range of health benefits, including the ability to soothe sore throats, reduce fever, and ease digestive issues. The plant was also used in traditional folk remedies for skin conditions and as a natural remedy for toothache.

In addition to its medicinal properties, the Burnet Rose has also played an important role in cultural and artistic traditions throughout history. In Scottish folklore, the Burnet Rose was believed to be a symbol of true love, and it was often used in traditional wedding ceremonies. The plant has also been celebrated in poetry, literature, and art, and its delicate pink and white flowers have been depicted in countless paintings and other works of art throughout history.

Today, the Burnet Rose continues to be a popular choice for ornamental gardening and landscaping, thanks to its hardiness, beauty, and versatility. It is often used to create natural-looking garden borders, to add color and fragrance to patios and other outdoor spaces, and to attract pollinators to gardens and wild spaces. In addition, the plant's edible fruits and leaves make it a great choice for gardeners who are interested in sustainable, home-grown food sources.

One interesting aspect of the Burnet Rose is its role in ecological conservation efforts. In many parts of its native range, the Burnet Rose has become threatened or endangered due to habitat loss and over-harvesting. In response, conservationists and gardeners have begun to cultivate and propagate the plant in order to help preserve its genetic diversity and ensure that it remains a vibrant and healthy part of the natural world.

One particularly noteworthy example of Burnet Rose conservation is the work being done by the Scottish Rock Garden Club, which has established a Burnet Rose conservation project aimed at preserving and propagating this species of rose in its native range. The project involves collecting and growing seeds from a wide range of wild Burnet Rose populations, with the ultimate goal of reintroducing the plant to areas where it has become rare or extinct.

In addition to its ecological importance, the Burnet Rose also has a number of potential commercial applications. For example, the plant's fruits are high in vitamin C and other beneficial nutrients, and they are used to make a variety of food and beverage products, including jams, jellies, and teas. The plant's leaves and flowers are also used to make fragrant and healthful teas, and they are sometimes used in the production of natural cosmetics and skincare products.

Another interesting aspect of the Burnet Rose is its role in horticulture and plant breeding. The plant has been cultivated for its ornamental value for centuries, and a number of different cultivars and hybrids have been developed to enhance its beauty, hardiness, and disease resistance.

One notable example of Burnet Rose breeding is the hybrid Rosa spinosissima x R. pimpinellifolia, which is commonly known as the Scottish wild rose. This hybrid was developed in the 19th century by Scottish plant breeders, and it is prized for its hardiness, disease resistance, and delicate white flowers.

In addition to hybridization, the Burnet Rose is also commonly used as a parent plant in modern rose breeding programs. By crossing the Burnet Rose with other species and cultivars, breeders can create new and unique rose varieties that combine the best traits of both parents, such as disease resistance, hardiness, and fragrance.

One particularly interesting example of Burnet Rose hybridization is the variety 'Stanwell Perpetual', which is a hybrid of Rosa spinosissima and R. moschata. This variety is prized for its delicate pink flowers, strong fragrance, and long blooming season, and it is a popular choice for gardeners and rose enthusiasts around the world.

The Burnet Rose also has a fascinating connection to ancient mythology and folklore. In Greek mythology, the goddess Aphrodite was said to have created the first rose when her tears fell onto the ground, and the Burnet Rose was believed to have been one of the first varieties of rose to have emerged from this divine act.

In Norse mythology, the Burnet Rose was associated with Freya, the goddess of love and fertility. The plant was believed to be a symbol of Freya's beauty and grace, and it was often used in traditional Nordic wedding ceremonies.

In addition to its mythological associations, the Burnet Rose has also played an important role in traditional European folklore. In some regions, the plant was believed to have protective powers, and it was often planted around homes and fields to ward off evil spirits and other negative influences.

The Burnet Rose has also been the subject of countless poems, songs, and works of art throughout history. The plant's delicate flowers, thorny branches, and sweet fragrance have inspired generations of artists and writers, and its enduring beauty and cultural significance continue to captivate and inspire people around the world.

In conclusion, the Burnet Rose is a truly remarkable plant that has played an important role in human culture, horticulture, and conservation efforts for centuries. Whether you are interested in its medicinal properties, ecological value, ornamental beauty, or mythological associations, the Burnet Rose is a fascinating and versatile plant that is sure to inspire and delight anyone who encounters it.

30 Burnet Rose Facts

  1. Rosa spinosissima, commonly known as Burnet Rose, is a species of wild rose native to Europe and western Asia.

  2. It belongs to the Rosaceae family and is characterized by its small, delicate flowers and prickly stems.

  3. Burnet Rose typically grows in dry, rocky habitats such as coastal cliffs, heathlands, and sand dunes.

  4. The plant is named after its resemblance to the Burnet moth, which has similar colors and patterns.

  5. Its flowers are usually white or pale pink with five petals and a sweet fragrance.

  6. Burnet Rose blooms in late spring to early summer, attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

  7. The foliage of the Burnet Rose consists of small, dark green leaves that turn yellow in the fall.

  8. This species is highly adaptable and can tolerate poor soil conditions, drought, and salt spray.

  9. Burnet Rose is often used in landscaping for its ornamental value and ability to form dense, low-growing shrubs.

  10. Historically, Burnet Rose has been used in traditional medicine for its astringent properties, believed to treat diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues.

  11. The hips of Burnet Rose are rich in vitamin C and can be used to make tea, syrup, or jelly.

  12. In folklore, Burnet Rose has been associated with love and protection, and its petals were sometimes scattered at weddings.

  13. The plant has thorny stems, providing protection for nesting birds and small mammals.

  14. Burnet Rose is a pioneer species, meaning it is one of the first plants to colonize disturbed or barren areas.

  15. It is also known by other names such as Scotch Rose, Burnet Rose, and Scotch Briar.

  16. The plant is relatively low-maintenance and resistant to many pests and diseases.

  17. Rosa spinosissima has been cultivated for centuries, leading to several cultivated varieties with different flower colors and forms.

  18. Burnet Rose is sometimes used in erosion control and slope stabilization projects due to its extensive root system.

  19. The species has a long history of cultivation in gardens and is documented in botanical literature dating back to the 16th century.

  20. Burnet Rose is a parent species of many modern rose hybrids, contributing to their hardiness and disease resistance.

  21. In some regions, Burnet Rose is considered invasive, particularly in coastal habitats where it can outcompete native vegetation.

  22. The plant's Latin name, "spinosissima," means "very spiny," referring to its characteristic thorns.

  23. Burnet Rose can be propagated from seeds, cuttings, or by layering.

  24. In traditional herbalism, Burnet Rose was used externally to treat skin conditions such as eczema and acne.

  25. The plant has been the subject of botanical illustrations and paintings throughout history, prized for its delicate beauty.

  26. Burnet Rose has inspired poets and writers, appearing in literature as a symbol of love, beauty, and resilience.

  27. In Scotland, Burnet Rose is associated with the legend of the Battle of Harlaw and is sometimes referred to as the "Battle Rose."

  28. The species has naturalized in parts of North America, where it is sometimes considered a weed in agricultural fields and pastures.

  29. Burnet Rose is classified as a deciduous shrub, losing its leaves in the winter months.

  30. Conservation efforts are underway to protect native populations of Burnet Rose and preserve their genetic diversity.


Burnet Roses filmed at the following locations:
  • Hightown, Lancashire: 20th May 2023
  • Sandscale Haws National Nature Reserve: 8th July 2023

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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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