Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Records Centre

Dog Rose – Rosa canina

The Dog Rose is a widely-spread native deciduous shrub and is the commonest rose species in Wiltshire. It is widely distributed throughout the county in hedges, woodland edges and in a range of open habitats.

Dog Rose, WWT/ Rob Large


It is an early coloniser of open ground such as disused railway embankments, spoil heaps and other well-lit open ground, as well as in hedgerows and woodland edges. It avoids very dry or waterlogged soils.


Dog Rose flowers are scented, bowl-shaped and grow in clusters of one to three; they are white to pink in colour and have five petals. It has prickly (hooked spines) stems which are green to purple becoming brown with age. The toothed leaves are dark green to blue-green, and both surfaces are usually hairless and unscented.


It is a climbing shrub which grows up to 3m in height and has long, strongly arching, and widely spreading, prickly stems. In open habitats young plants are at first erect, then arching with age. Sometimes a mature plant will scramble up into the crowns of taller trees aided by its prickles. It flowers mainly in June and July with a mass of delicate flowers that are delicately fragranced.

In autumn the fruits - known as rose hips or dragon’s eyes – ripen and are a vivid red in colour. They are protected by small irritating hairs within the hip to prevent them from being eaten; however this doesn’t deter birds as some species have the ability to extract the seeds from the hip.

The Dog Rose, like many other members of the rose family, will hybridise readily with other rose species, so confusing intermediate forms will occasionally be encountered.