Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Roses on the beach

I mentioned yesterday that I spent monday afternoon near the coastline. Haven't edited the pics from that trip yet, but just had to show you some rose pics I took.

These are typical Rosa rugosa. Also known as Japanes rose, saltspray rose, sea rose amongst other names in English. In Swedish it's best known as vresros, vresig meaning sulky/surly/crumpy. A name it probably got for its recilience. Roses may look sweet and innocent, but the rosebush can be really tough.

The rugosa rose was imported to Europe as an ornamental plant, but not least in around these parts (Southern Sweden and Denmark), it became a popular shrub to plant along the beaches to keep the sand dunes from eroding and spreading the sand inlands, damaging nearby fields. What no one predicted at the time was the ease of which this rose spread... Not only did it spread -- fast -- but in doing so it pushed out the local flora, totally taking over each area it settled in. As in so many other cases, introducing a foreign species to a new habitat caused many unexpected problems.

So while very pretty -- and with a divine scent -- it's now more or less actively "hunted down" by the local governments along the coast. At times the shrubs have been dug up and removed, but often it had only partial effect and I'm not sure it that strategy is even used nowadays due to the cost of labour involved. But other types of efforts are taken to curb the spreading. Though it takes time, money and patience to fight this rose. A project financed by the European Commission, DAISIE, lists the Rose rugosa as one of the 100 worst alien species in Europe.

It is still used as an ornamental plant, though I don't believe many plant new rosebushes in these days. It's just the old ones that are kept (ideally not too close to the coast). E.g. I remember it from both my first school (låg- & mellanstadiet, grades 1-6) and later my second school (högstadiet, grads 7-9), where it was used as a decorative and sturdy hedge. While the girls at most picked a few petals to make rose "perfume", some of the boys would collect the hips in the autumn as their seeds were known as an alternative to itching powder.

And then, finally, what other flowers did I spot? Many different kind of yellow flowers, from iris to buttercups. Not sure why there were so many yellow flowers and not so many in other colours right now. Might be interesting to find out. But I did find something else. Of cause, an other favourite of mine: violets. Heartsease or wild pansy (Viola tricolor) to be precise. Some of them grew in the sand beneath the roses.

1 comment:

  1. Oh no! Rosa rugosa belongs to my favourite roses with nice memories from my childhood. When I think of it I can feel the lovely scent of it. And now I hear it is an enemy. Interesting post though.


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