The climbing prairie rose (Rosa setigera), also known as the climbing rose, is a perennial shrub in the Rosaceae family which is traditionally used to make jams, infusions, jellies and syrups. Its arching, climbing branches are often several meters long and tend to rest on the ground. In contact with the soil, they can root at the tips, where new individuals will then develop. The branches are studded with short, strong, slightly curved spines. The dark-green leaves are alternate and compound. The leaflets are opposite and pointed, three to five per leaf. The flowers have five petals, each two to three centimeters (about an inch) long. The petals are pink and the numerous yellow stamens in the center of the flower tend to become lighter with time. The flowers bloom from the end of June to July, and flower in clusters for about a month. The fruits are globular, orange to deep red in color.
Rosa setigera is native to central and eastern North America and is the only climbing rose in Canada, where it is only found in the vicinity of Lake Erie, which has the moderate climate of the Great Lakes. In the United States, it is found mostly in isolated populations, from extreme southwestern Ontario and adjacent Michigan to suburban New York and Pennsylvania, south along the western slopes of the Appalachian Mountains to Georgia and west to eastern Texas.
It generally prefers areas of open or early successional habitat, such as open woodland and old abandoned farmland, but also pastures, hedgerows and drainage banks. The species can persist in semi-shaded conditions, with scattered trees. Soil conditions are generally moist, clayey to clayey-loamy, but it occasionally tolerates sandy and shallow soils.
The species has experienced a decline in the number of sites and a decrease in population size. In Canada, the prairie rose is vulnerable in the province of Ontario. Human activity, including development of land for housing, and inappropriate land management are negatively affecting this species.
Invasive species are encroaching on many prairie habitats, contributing to the decline in habitat quality and availability. The autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellatus) has been identified as an invasive exotic shrub that shares a habitat with the climbing rose and can pose a threat.
Finally, the climbing prairie rose has been widely used for breeding roses for gardening. This introduces a potential threat to the genetic composition of native populations, particularly if garden varieties are unwittingly introduced into natural areas.
The climbing prairie rose is known for its high vitamin C content. The berries can also be eaten raw, while the stems and leaves are used in tea or other infusions. The petals can also be eaten raw.
Rosa setigera is also known for its medicinal uses, as it has traditionally been used to treat eye inflammation.