This climbing rose has stems up to 20 feet long with vicious recurved thorns. These stems often take root if left on the ground. The evergreen leaves are made up of 3 (rarely 5) finely toothed leaflets, which help distinguish it from the Chickasaw Rose (Rosa bracteata).
Each flower is about 3 inches in diameter. It is nearly flat and consists of 5 white petals (sometimes slightly pink), with a cluster of yellow stamens in the center. Each blossom is borne singly on a lateral branch.
Cherokee Rose has a short blooming season in late March and April. The fruit is pear-shaped and bristly. It can occasionally be found growing along roadsides, in fence rows, and waste places in the Coastal Plains and Piedmont of the deep South.
The same species grows in China and Japan. It is said to have been found by the early white explorers on their first arrival at the American Indian villages of the Cherokees and Creeks. Dr. Charles Mohr wrote that it is often impossible to decide whether a plant should be considered naturalized or native, particularly when every trace is obliterated of the time and manner in which it may have been introduced.
The Cherokee Rose is the State Flower of Georgia.