Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 97 Rosa laevigata

Common Names: Cherokee rose Family: Rosaceae (rose Family)
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Cherokee rose blossom
Cherokee rose's impressively large single flowers are also lightly fragrant.


This evergreen climbing rose produces long, thorny, vinelike canes that will form a mound 10-12 ft (3-3.7 m) in height and about 15 ft (4.6 m) wide. This rose is often seen sprawling across adjacent shrubs and other supports that it employs to climb to even greater heights. The pure white single flowers are 3.5-4 in (9-10 cm) in diameter and appear in spring. They are densely arranged along the length of the canes that form garlands of blossoms. The fruit of the Cherokee rose is called a hip and is large compared to other members of the rose family being 1.5-2 in (4-5 cm)long by 0.5-1 in (1-2.5 cm) wide. Cherokee rose has attractive evergreen compound leaves composed of three leaflets with the center leaflet larger than its partners. The glossy light green leaflets are oval shaped with a pointed tip and range from 1-3.5 in (2.5-9 cm)long and 1-2 in (2.5-5 cm) wide.

Cherokee rose bush
This Cherokee rose uses support from adjacent shrubs and trees to climb more than 20 ft (6 m) reaching above the utility lines.


Rosa laevigata is native to China. Cherokee rose has naturalized across much of the southeastern United States.


Cherokee rose prefers well drained, fertile soils but is very adaptable. It will succeed in both wet and very dry sandy soils. Light: Likes full sun, but will tolerate some shade. Moisture: Provide regular watering for best look and fast growth. Cherokee rose also grows well on lake and stream banks and can survive occasional flooding. This adaptable rose has also proven to be drought tolerant. Hardiness: USDA Zones 7 - 9. Propagation: Cherokee rose is very easy to propagate from cuttings. Bare root plants transplant easily.


The Cherokee rose's fast growth rate and long stems armed with large hooked thorns make it an effective screening and barrier plant. It's a useful addition to natural areas where it will shoot long arching stems that will string themselves vinelike through tree branches and shrubs. Grow on trellises, fences or tree trunks or plant in an open area where it will grow into a large mound. Rather than trim the plant into a mound, let the canes grow long so they can weave white springtime garlands through adjacent shrubbery. Cherokee rose is very happy in waterside situations where it can cast shimmering reflections upon still surfaces.

Cherokee rose  hip
Be cautious around the thorny Cherokee rose - as you can see here, even the large fruits (hips) are fiercely armed!


The Cherokee rose is easy and fast growing. It demands little maintenance other than periodic prunings to keep it in bounds. Unlike hybrid roses, the Cherokee rose is not plagued by insects and fungus. Birds flock to the Cherokee rose to feast on the hips, this fruit being a tasty source of vitamin C (humans also consume rose hips from other species as a nutritional supplement). Having long ago naturalized in the area, the Cherokee rose was selected as the state flower of Georgia.

Jack Scheper 7/1/97; updated 4/13/02, 2/21/03, 12/5/03, 2/9/05

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Rosa species profiled on Floridata:

Rosa Radrazz

( Knock Outâ„¢ rose )

Rosa banksiae

( Lady Banks rose, banksian rose )

Rosa laevigata

( Cherokee rose )

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