The species name nootka comes from the Nootka Sound of Vancouver Island, where the plant was first described. This plant is native to Western North America. There are 2 varieties: hispida grows in the Intermountain West from east of the Cascades to the Rocky Mountains, and nutkana grows in coastal areas from Alaska to California west to the Cascades. The Jepson Interchange (Flora of California) considers other varieties to be part of the nutkana variety.
Rosa nutkana grows to as much as 3 meters, often in thickets. It has light green paired leaflets with toothed edges and sharp prickles at the base. The prickles are straight and paired and generally appear at nodes. The 5–8 cm (2–3 in) flowers usually occur singly, but may appear in groups of 2 or 3. The flowers, which appear in early summer, can have a pleasantly strong fragrance. The sepals are very long, longer than the petals, and are constricted in the middle. The fruits (hips) of Nootka rose are somewhat bitter but edible. It is reported that bletting will greatly mitigate the bitterness and make the hips much more palatable. Only the rind should be eaten as the seeds are irritating.
Nootka rose grows in a wide variety of habitats, from sea level to mid elevations. It needs sun but will tolerate some shade, often growing along forest edges. It grows in moist riparian soils and in dry glacial till soils. It grows in fencerows, hedgerows, pastures, shrubby wetlands, woodlands, prairies, and meadows.
Nootka rose thickets provide habitat and food for birds and small wildlife. Deer browse the flowers, young stems, and hips. They are used in wetland mitigation buffers and in native plant landscaping.
R. nutkana hosts gall-making wasps of the family Cynipidae, genus Diplolepis (wasp), in the insect class Hymenoptera. Two species are D. polita, which makes bristly round red or green galls on leaves, and D. rosae, the mossy rose gall, which makes large, mossy, feathery, greenish or yellowish growths on stems.
Rosa nutkana is used medicinally by a great number of indigenous peoples to treat a wide variety of ailments, and also ceremonially, in handcrafts, and as a food source. The branches or leaves were used to make a tea or poultice to treat sores and eye problems. As with all wild rose species, the hips are edible and sometimes used to make jams and jellies.
Nootka rose can be propagated from seed, although germination is spotty. Hardwood cuttings and root suckers can also be used.
- "Rosa nutkana". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2010-03-27.
- ITIS Standard Report Page: Rosa nutkana Retrieved 2010-03-27
- USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Rosa nutkana". The PLANTS Database (plants.usda.gov). Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
- NPIN: Rosa nutkana (Nootka rose) Retrieved 2010-03-27.
- WTU Herbarium Image Collection Retrieved 2010-03-27.
- Stewart, Charles (May 1994). Wildflowers of the Olympics and Cascades. Sequim, Washington: Nature Education Enterprises. p. 77. ISBN 0-9621104-2-6.
- Gerteis, Joan (2006-08-17). "Our Wild Nootka Rose". WSU Extension - Island County. Retrieved 2010-03-27.
- USDA. "PLANTS Database". Retrieved 24 February 2011.
- Jepson. "A Flora of California". Retrieved 24 February 2011.
- Pojar and MacKinnon (1994). Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Vancouver, British Columbia: Lone Pine Publishing. ISBN 1-55105-040-4.
- Cooke, Sarah Spear (1997). Field Guide to the Common Wetland Plants of Western Washington and Northwestern Oregon. Seattle, Washington: Seattle Audubon Society. ISBN 0-914516-11-6.
- Leigh, Michael (1999). Grow Your Own Native Landscape. Thurston County, WA: WSU Cooperative Extension.
- Haggard, Peter and Judy (2006). Insects of the Pacific Northwest. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press. ISBN 0881926892.
- Species account from Native American Ethnobotany (University of Michigan - Dearborn) Retrieved 2010-03-2007.
- Fagan, Damian (2019). Wildflowers of Oregon: A Field Guide to Over 400 Wildflowers, Trees, and Shrubs of the Coast, Cascades, and High Desert. Guilford, CT: FalconGuides. p. 221. ISBN 978-1-4930-3633-2. OCLC 1073035766.
- Whitney, Stephen (1985). Western Forests (The Audubon Society Nature Guides). New York: Knopf. p. 444. ISBN 0-394-73127-1.
- Peter Beales (2002). Klassische Rosen [Classic roses] (in German). DuMont. pp. 222–223. ISBN 3-8320-8736-2.
- HelpMeFind. "Nootka Rose". Retrieved 24 February 2011.