One of the advantages to living in California is that our climate is perfect for growing many types of beautiful plants, including roses. Roses do well here because of the sunny weather and dry air which reduces fungal issues and diseases that can plague roses. There are many beautiful varieties of roses, in all colors and sizes, it's no wonder that roses are widely cultivated and so popular today. However, roses were in California long before people. Taking a look back to the 'root' of roses, uncovers a wonderful native variety known as the Californian wild rose.
There is fossil evidence that the very first roses in North America, known as the wild rose, dates back 35 million years ago and are related to the species we know today. Interestingly, wild roses were also found in Asia dating back 70 million years ago and scientists are not sure why they only grew wild in the Northern Hemisphere. Unlike the modern day rose with many petals, the wild rose has five petals and is open-faced and quite hardy.
The California wild rose is prolific in California and Oregon, growing wildly usually near deep water sources. It is considered to be a 'keystone' species which is a plant that is relied on by other plants, animals, birds and insects that inhabit the area. It supports pollinators like bees and butterflies and is a favorite nesting plant for songbirds. It has a long blooming season from spring into summer and the blooms are wonderfully fragrant.
Another interesting attribute is the tiny fruit it provides deep into winter. Called rose hips, they looks like small red crab apples and contain the rose seeds. They are high in vitamin C and also contains vitamins A, B-3, D and E as well as bioflavonoids. It is an important food source for birds and animals, was regularly used by the Native Americans, and is widely used today in supplements, teas, and recipes.
The California wild rose is hardy, easy to grow and is relatively pest free. Unlike it's newer relatives, it is drought tolerant once established. It does well in a wide range of soil types and is best planted in medium to large areas. It spreads by sending out underground runner roots and its deep roots make a good barrier from other invasive plants. Plus it will attract bees and butterflies to your garden and maybe a songbird or two!