Beach Rose

Beach Rose

Rosa rugosa

Other names: rugosa rose, Japanese rose, Ramanas rose, beach tomato or sea tomato; saltspray rose, potato rose, Turkestan rose

Family: Rosaceae

Range: Native to northeastern China, Japan, Korea and southeastern Siberia.

Native: Introduced

Native Habitat: The coast, especially sand dunes.

Bloom Time: May to July


‘Rugosa’ means wrinkled.

The plant is widely used as an ornamental plant, and has been introduced to Europe and North America.   It was first introduced into North America in 1845. The first report of it being naturalized far from the location in which it was planted occurred on Nantucket in 1899. Ten years later it was said to be “straying rapidly” and today it is naturalized on the entire coast of New England.

This is not a plant you want next to anything else. My personal experience with this is the rugosa rose that was planted in my side garden. I would cut it back mercilessly every year to give myself more room in the garden. (When I moved in, it had swallowed up a clematis and a whole iris bed.) Finally, I got my landlord’s permission to dig it out. I had to dig out two large hostas in the process (that had gotten tangled up with shoots), and dug about a foot and half done to get out the main plant roots. The following year, I was constantly digging out little shoots that came out of the odd root fragment. I love these roses, where they belong, but would never, ever, plant one myself. My father has some at the edge of his yard, where they wanted to block off the view of the road, and there’s nothing else nearby. That’s about the only good reason to ever use them in a garden.

All that said, my favorite scent in the world is the combination of rugosa rose and sea spray you get walking onto Crescent Beach when the roses are fully in bloom (see the blogs header picture).   The scent hits you long before you can see them.  So, I really do love these flowers.

They’re often planted to combat erosion in sandy areas because they grow well in sand, and form such dense thickets.

The plant is valued by rose breeders due to its resistance to rose rust and rose black spot.

The hips are edible, if a little bitter. They’re high in vitamin C.

Asian names translate as follows:

In Japanese: hamanasu “beach eggplant” and hamanashi “beach pear”; Chinese: méigui huà; Korean: haedanghwa, literally “flowers near the seashore”

Locations in Photos:

Eastern Promenade, Portland, ME
Fort Foster, Kittery, ME
Crescent Beach State Park, Cape Elizabeth, ME
Campobello Island, NB
Owls Head State Park, Owls Head, ME
Two Lights State Park, Cape Elizabeth, ME
Mackworth Island State Park, Falmouth, ME



American Rose Society

USDA Plant profile

Missouri Botanical Garden

Invasive Species Fact Sheet (Europe)

Rugosa’s hips.

fall foliage IMG_7989 mackworth
Fall foliage.