Family: Rosaceae (Rose)

Cherokee Rose, Rosa laevigata


Cherokee Rose is the state flower of Georgia

"A rose by any other name is still a rose"
William Shakespeare

 McCartney Rose
(Rosa bracteata)

 Prairie Rose
(R. suffuita)

McCartney Rose is also known as Chickasaw Rose; by far the most prolific of wild roses in the Escambia region. In many areas it is cultivated by the Department of Transportation as a part of its erosion control project; however, the rose can be a weedy invasive and much effort is needed to control its progression. McCartney is closely related to Cherokee Rose and except for leaf arrangement they are virtual mirrow images. Briefly, Cherokee Rose has three to five leaflets on the flowering stem, whereas McCartney has seven to nine. Those factors are commonly ignored and the viewing public simply enjoy the sweet smelling, gorgeous presentations.

Habitat is essentially the same, but Cherokee is more inclined to a regimented habit whereas McCartney is apt to send out long trailers, sprawling, or to overtake a host shrub and simply build its own arbor. The thicket of vines and prickles then becomes an excellent refuge for small animals.

Prairie Rose, also known as the Pride of Virginia, is infrequent in the Escambia range. This very attractive rose has been harvested as a domestic ornamental and is rarely seen in a wilderness environment. It makes its best show during our Indian Summer; direct sun or shade, dry or moist, poor or rich soild in pine woods, savannas, old trails and abandoned homesites. When tended and trimmed properly this Old World primitive rose is an excellent choice as a trellis climber. Prairie Rose is the state flower of North Dakota.


Swamp Rose (R. virginiana)
  Swamp Rose is also know as "Virginia Rose." The plant is closely related to the Prairie Rose, but they differ in shape and placement of petals. Like Cherokee and McCartney roses, Prairie has seven to nine leaf segments on the flowering stem while Swamp Rose has three to five. Note that Prairie Rose has over-
lapping petals while Swamp is distinctly separated; five simple petals.
The fact that Prairie Rose is also known as the Pride of Virginia has no bearing on its relationship to Swamp Rose. It happened during colonial times when the two roses were discovered in the mountains of Virginia. Since every state in the union has named a rose as the "Pride Of -----(state) ------," Virginia named one of those roses as its "Pride" and the other as its state wildflower.

 Cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus)

Sometimes a thing needs to be treated as an entity unto itself and is deserving of more space than just a few lines. Cloudberry is one such plant. This is a smaller members of the bramble-like group from which the domestic Wickmoss Rose was developed; a former Rosarian Society honor rose. The plant is in no way related to the Cherokee or Chickasaw rose, aside from being of the same tribe within the Rose family. It begins flowering in April and continues producing buds for about two months, at which time it begins to produce fruit.

This small-flowered climber is sold in nurseries as a hedge rose. If not contained; however, it will ramble a few feet across the lawn. In its native state it forms small mats a few inches high and may spread outward a few feet. It is not considered invasive like other wide roses and takes well to a potted plant environment; easily transplanted.

Cloudberry was introduced to North America from China and was originally found in Louisiana; the trading ports of New Orleans and Baton Rouge no doubt having much to do with that. Over the course of a few decades it spread to several locations on the Coastal Plain. It has been cultivated in Canada for a number of years as an ornamental only.

The fruit of Cloudberry is an aggregate of drupes (like blackberry and dewberry), but that delicious offering is seldom harvested because its color isn't as red and rich as its brier cousins; barely turning a rosy pink, which appears to be unripe. But, ripe it is; bearing a sweet taste and aroma like crushed apples. Need I mention the goodness of blackberry/dewberry pies, coblers, turnovers, jams and jellies; Cloudberry is no exception. The leaf isn't quite the same but at the time berries are harvested there isn't much leaf left anyway, so it would difficult to determine.


 Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora)
Another often overlooked member of the Rose family is the Multiflora Rose. Normally seen as white, the plant is now being discovered in a pale pink variety, which is sending growers and collectors on field trips to harvest cultivars, seeds and cuttings in preparation for future demands. Multiflora is invasive and will climb 30-50 feet in search of sunlight. But, like the related Prairie Rose it's an excellent trellis rose if trained and kept contained. Flowers are considerably smaller than the Cherokee and McCartney roses, but what it lacks in size it makes up in flower clusters.

 Common Blackberry
(Rubus cuneifolius)
  Common Blackberry is described as a shrub having erect to arching stems with prickles that are hooked, as well as having prickles on the back of its leaf. In the Escambia region (considered sea- side) the "shrub" has five leaflets on first-year stems and three on second year stems. Actually, an accurate identification to species is difficult at best as there is little agreement among manuals concerning many species, and there is a large discrepancy regarding the number of species recognized.

Be that as it may, and leaving it to people who know far more than I about the Common Blackberry I, like so many of you, am more concerned with the delicious fruits. I will have to say that blackberries are smaller and firmer than the related Dewberry, and its fruit ripens later in the season.

Related Blackberry species are: R. argutus and R. betulifolius. Not to worry, the end result is the same -- those delicious berries.


Southern Dewberry
(R. hispidus)

Make no mistake about it, whether you're picking blackberries or dewberries, both have prickles and the plants send a clear message that skin protection is needed if you expect to enjoy the delicious treats nature has to offer.

Southern Dewberry is also described as a shrub with weak trailing biennial stems that usually root at tips and it bears numerous short prickles. Its leaves are compound and mostly evergreen. Un-
like Blackberry, Dewberry has five leaflets on first year stems and three on second year stems.


There are two variations on the Southern Dewberry; one that favors thin woods and roadsides, hispidus, and two with longer and more brittle prickles that hug the back side of dunes at seashore, trivialis and flagellaris.

Dewberry offers its fruit a little earlier than Blackberry; mid-spring whereas blackberries appear around end of June and first of July. Fruit is larger and more plump; a compact cluster of small, juicy drupes.


 Dewberry/Blackberry Fruit
  The name of the game here is food; jam, jellies, pies, cobblers and turnovers, or simply follow the lead of a true southerner and eat them right off the bush. Never mind that a tiny insect may be lurking in the crevices - again, in the same southern tradition, "It's just added protein." Think positive "cuz," think positive!

Wild Strawberry
(Pragaris virginiana)
  To some folks Wild Strawberry is the most delicious of all fruits. These are found in open fields and at the margin of thin woods, rich meadows and occasionally in flood zones. The favored cultivated strawberry is a hybrid developed from this native species and a variety that was imported from South America in the early 15th century. In time it began to breed true and the result is those large, plump strawberries that seem to grow best in California and the Rio Grand Valley. Other species that grow in the Escambia woods are Indian Strawberry and the Common Cinquerfoil; negligible differences.
Wild Strawberry is described as a perennial with long roots; all basal compound leaves. Leaflets are toothed along most of the margin. Flowers are in clusters and bearing white petals. Fruit is an enlarged, juicy receptacle with many achenes (an achene is a seed which outer layer is fused to it). Those who have eaten the wild variety do indeed attest that it's much sweeter than the cultivated variety, but not as juicy.

 Gopher Apple (Licania michauxii)
   Gopher Apple is a small shrub with underground stems from which new growth emerges. Leaves are shiny, evergreen, and having smooth margins or scattered teeth. Fruit is oval drupe (a seed surrounded by juicy or firm flesh). The seed is a pit. Rarely is mature fruit seen on the shrub as it's a favorite of numerous birds and animals, but especially tasty to the Gopher Tortoise, which it consumes before taking a long winter's nap.

Parsley-leaf Hawthorn (Crataegus marshallii
Parsley-leaf Hawthorn is not rare; just rarely seen. It's a small tree with slender, spreading branches and a broad, irregular crown. It usually reaches a height of about 20 feet with a trunk diameter of 5-6 inches. the distinctive feature of this hawthorn is the leaf, which is broadly egg-shaped, deeply divided nearly to mid-vein to resembly the Flat-leaf Parsley grown in domestic herb gardens. The leaf makes this one of the easiest hawthorns to recognize. Flowering occurs in late spring and its tiny apple-like fruit matures in the autumn. Preferred habitat is moist valleys and stream banks. The Latin species name honors Humphry Marshall (1722-1801, a U.S. botanist.

 One-Flower Hawthorn
(Crataegus uniflora)

 Three-Flower Hawthorn
(C. triflora)

With so many hawthorns in the Escambia region it is extremely difficult to distinguish one from the other; Riverflat (Mahaw), May (Early) Hawthorn, Cockspur, One-Flower, Thorny Haw, Three-Flower, Washington Thorn, Pensacola Hawthorn, Beautiful Hawthorn and Parsley-leaf Hawthorn.

The shrub/small tree is generally described as having simple leaves that are alternate on the stem, usually with teeth or shallow lobes. Its branches are crooked and thorny; some species having longer thorns than others. Flowers occur in early spring; typical five-petals indicative of the Rose family. Only one, Brainerd's Hawthorn, is restricted to a seaside habitat and two are treated as ornamentals

One-Flower Hawthorn, sometimes referred to as Dwarf Hawthorn, is a small shrub which is usually found at the margin of thin pine woods, open meadows and roadside embankments. In a cultivated environment it may reach a lofty height of 10 feet, but in a wilderness setting it's usually no more than 36 inches; scruffy and tenacious. It was given the name One-Flower because a single flower emerges from the leaf axil. The same may be said of Three-Flower as three blossoms emerge on short stalks from the leaf axil. Both shrubs are used extensively by the Department of Transportation as decorative plants along the Interstate system; I-65 and I-10.

The Washington Thorn and Pensacola Hawthorn are rarely seen anymore, except in landscaped environments. The Washington Thorn was given its name because it was the original shrub/tree planted along streets and boulevards of Washington, D.C.. When the government of Japan made a gift of cherry trees to the United States, the hawthorns were moved to other areas and the cherry was given a permanent home in the District. Not to worry though as the "DC Thorn" was also allowed to escape. It fared well as a wild shrub, but continues to grace many stately homes throughout the country; a testimony to its value whether as a domestic or a wilderness shrub.

The Pensacola Hawthorn was given its name because it was first discovered in the Escambia when the region was occupied by Spanish rule. The Spaniards were so enamored with the beautiful shrub that it was cultivated and sent to Madrid and Palma as a novelty; a compliment it enjoys to this day where it has a prominent place in the royal gardens of Spain and on the estates of Spanish aristocracy. It is no longer considered a native plant as it was cultivated as an ornamental and the wilderness shrub was allowed to come onto hard times in the name of progress.

The Latin describing Pensacola Hawthorn is C. lacrimata, which means, "To weep, to drip honey." It certainly does that and attracts thousands of honeybees during its flowering season. It's blossoms are exceptionally small, but their odor is so powerful it renders them undesirable as a table bouquet. There are no thorns on its branches so it's completely safe where children are about.


 Red Chokeberry
(Aronia arbutifolia)
  The plant is described as a deciduous shrub that reproduces from root sprouts as well as seeds. Its leaves are simple and alternate on the stem. Typical of the Rose family, its flowers have five petals. The fruit of Chokeberry is a small pome (hard flesh surrounding a core of five seeds like an apple). Surprisingly, the shrub is a great hedge-like plant that lends itself to clipping and shaping. The red fruit appears to be of little importance to wildlife but is occasionally consumed by migratory birds.

Chokeberry is closely related to the hawthorns; however, its small fruit seems more allied with the cherry.

According to the Audubon Society the entire plant is a favorite food of bears. A few years ago we in Escambia region would have little to worry about but that's not the case any more as black bear sightings are becoming more and more frequent.


Carolina Cherry (Prunus caroliniana)
Yes, cherries, which members are Carolina Cherry and Black Cherry, are roses. While it is reported that the leaves and seeds are poisonous, the bark of these trees is used for flavoring caugh syrups and numerous children's medicine; astringents and remedies for headache. The plant is a small to large tree with clusters of flowers arising on new growth twigs in the leaf axils. Flowering occurs in March and April. Preferred habitat is disturbed sites, roadsides, thickets, thin woods and stream banks. This tree is closely related to Chickasaw Plum and Hog Plum. The leaves are of little im-
portance as a food stuff, but white-tailed deer will browse it when little else is available.
No work would be complete without mention of those beautiful Old World roses seen at roadside throughout the Escambia region. These are often referred to as Seven Sister's Rose, a name with which I cannot argue as there are folks who say that "Seven Sister's" has seven distinct colors on the shrub, including green for the leaf and brown for the stem. Nevertheless, these roadside roses are widespread and we would be far less without them. In the Escambia between Alabama state line and Pensacola there are several colonies along H-29 that are breath taking when the large bundle of flowers are in full show. Without further comment, I present to you: Multiflora Rose, Multiflora platyphylla.

  Pink Multiflora Rose (M. platyphylla)

 White Multiflora Rose (M. platyphylla)

 Red Multiflora Rose (M. platyphylla)

These Old World roses were brought to North America by European settlers in the 16th and 17th centuries. They originally came from China where they are highly prized garden roses; trimmed and pampered like no other. Great emphasis is placed on the muted odors, which they offer at eventide, as well as the ease with which they adapt to the trellis or as a garden rambler. Except for extremely cold climates these roses do well in any soil makeup and are quite prolific on the Coastal Plains, where environment and soil conditions is not a problem.

Flowering occurs any time during spring and summer and they perform with gusto if the trailers are kept trim.

We have become so accustomed to see the red and pink variety of this rose that we completely overlooked the white and almost forgot that it existed. That precious variety is virtually unseen in either the domestic garden or at roadside. However, it appears to be thriving on the Escambia/Conecuh river in the vicinity of Flomaton/Century, along the Escambia-Santa Rosa county line.

  Downy Serviceberry
(Amelancher arborea)

Serviceberry is also known as June Berry and Shadbush. It's a medium-sized tree or large shrub found chiefly in thin pine woods. A related species is named Smooth Serviceberry, A. laevis, which flower is identical but the leaf is smooth at plant maturity, but develop a hairy underside when it's in flower. A third species of this region is A. canadensis, which form thickets and remain a small shrub throughout its life cycle.

It got the unusual name Shadbush because flowering occurs at the same time shad are spawning - it signaled the fisherman that "time is a-wasting and there's fish to be caught." It's second name, June Berry, was given because of its habit of beginning flower in the month June -- not before -- not after.


Preferred habitat is as follows:

A. Arborea - thin, dry woods where pine, scrub oak and gallberry are prevalent. There might also be a Pawpaw or two nearby.
A. laevis - Stable dune areas, thickets and thin woods.
A. canadensis - low places, flood zones, rich woods and edge of marshy areas.

Fruit of Serviceberry is a red or blue berry, very sweet, and favored by birds and white-tail deer.


Autumn Leaf of Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)

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