Nootka Rose

Nootka Rose (Rosa nutkana)

Figure 1. Nootka Rose (Rosa nutkana) image showing flower, leaf and hip. (source: Seaton, L. 2011)


Common Name: Nootka Rose

Scientific Name: Rosa nutkana

Island Hulkemel’em Name: qel'qulhp

Family: Rosaceae


Uvic Campus Locations:

Nootka Roses can be found in numerous park and wooded areas around Victoria, but there is an abundance on the Uvic Campus as well. They can be seen in the David Turpin Native Plant Garden (not in the courtyard but up near Ring Road), gardens in between Mystic Market and the First Peoples House, gardens around the Sedgewick Building, Cunningham Woods, MacLaurin Building gardens, and Bob Wright Centre gardens.



Be careful of the thorns on the stems when handling, and do not ingest the seeds from the rosehips as they are an irritant for your digestive track.


Botanical Description:

Nootka Rose is a fast-growing, upright shrub reaching heights and widths between 1-6 feet. They have dark-brown stems, with some being black. Many of the subspecies have straight thorns in pairs at the base of each leaf, while few have curved thorns. They have an alternate arrangement of leaves that are pinnately compound with 5 to 9 ovate and serrated leaves. They have pink flowers that are about 2 inches wide with 5 petals and sepals, and have a sweet but subtle smell. Once pollinated, their flowers develop into hips, the fruits that enclose the seeds, which grow up to one inch and are purplish-red. Their bloom period is from May to July and the fruit ripens into fall and can persist into winter. Hybridization is common between other native roses such as Baldhip Rose or Wood’s Rose.

Figure 2. Botanical drawing of a Nootka Rose (Rosa nutkana) (source: E Flora B.C. 2017)


Current Distribution and Local Habitat:

The native understory shrub Nootka Rose is found along the North American West Coast from Alaska to California, and all the way east to Utah and Colorado. They like full sun, but also moist conditions but without being boggy. It is most often found in border habitats such as on the edge of a forest or along the shoreline. Nootka Roses do well in difficult growing conditions such as steep slopes, wide range of pH values, seasonal flooding and drought conditions. They do well in disturbed areas, and at times could be called an invasive plant due to their ability to spread rapidly and choke out other plants, if not tended too. They are also found in lots of urban plantings due to their beautiful flowers, ease of care, and usefulness in hedgerows.


Ethnobotanical Usage:

First Nations People used this plant commonly to make teas and syrups from the hips. The hips have very high levels of Vitamin C, A, and E which helps ward sickness away, especially staph infections that are resistant to other antibiotics. As well, the petals, leaves and inner bark could be made into a tonic. The roots can also be steamed and used along with Western Red Cedar roots to make fishnets. Click here to view a presentation on how to make jam out of Nootka rose hips.


Written by Matthew Smith, ES 421 Fall 2017 student




Adams, C., Rannankari, L., and Marr, J. (2013). CARSA Medicinal Plant Garden. University of Victoria, Victoria, B.C. Retrieved from


Bressette, D.K. (2016, June 27). Nootka Rose, Rosa nutkana. Retrieved from


Hansen, W.W. (2012). Rosa Nutkana (Nootka Rose). Retrieved from


Klinkenberg, B. (2017). E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Retrieved from


Pavek, P.L.S. and D.M. Skinner. (2013). Plant guide for Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana C. Presl). USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Pullman, WA. Retrieved from


Seaton, L. (2011). Nootka rose and hip [Online Image]. Retrieved from


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Nootka Rose Image