Organic Horticulture in the Mid-Atlantic/Clearing multiflora rose
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose) is a highly invasive plant that colonizes woodlands, roadsides, and open areas. Its presence is in part du to its having been introduced as a "habitat plant" for birds along railroads and highways, and it does in fact provide nesting habitat and winter food for many songbirds. However, over the years it has become a very problematic plant, since it crowds out native understory plants and is quite difficult to remove due to the sharp, recurved thorns.
Aside from the use of herbicides, the plant can be controlled organically using mechanical methods and/or by grazing with goats.
While very young stems can be simply cut down my mowing, larger plants require heavier equipment, such as chainsaws, brush saws, and/or tractors. Roots can be removed by digging, or with the use of tractors or stump grinders, or can be left in place if regular mowing is an option.
Mechanical removal using a front loader, forklift tines, and chainsaw
The tops of large plants can be quickly removed using a front-loader with forklift tines, by lifting the crowns and then cutting the exposed trunks underneath. This has the added benefit of making disposal easier.
Mechanical removal using forks with chainsaws or brush saws
Disposal of tops
Because of the thorns, chipping is generally not a good option. Tops can instead be piled and compacted for slow composting, or else burned.
In the winter, multiflora rose also makes a good winter fodder for goats (which eat the bark, small stems, and fruits), so it can be piled in the barnyard for this purpose. After the rose dries, it can be disposed of by composting or burning.