Rosa laevigata (Cherokee Rose) is a rose native to southern China and Taiwan south to Laos and Vietnam.
It is an evergreen climbing shrub, scrambling over other shrubs and small trees to heights of up to 5-10 m. The leaves are 3-10 cm long, with usually three leaflets, sometimes five leaflets, bright glossy green and glabrous. The flowers are 6-10 cm diameter, fragrant, with pure white petals and yellow stamens, and are followed by bright red and bristly hips 2-4 cm diameter. The flower stem is also very bristly.
Cultivation and symbolism
The species was introduced to the southeastern United States
in about 1780
, where it soon became naturalized
, and where it gained its English name. It is the state flower
. The flower is forever linked to the Trail of Tears
and its petals represent the women's tears shed during the period of great hardship and grief throughout the historical trek from the Cherokees
' home to U.S. Forts such as Gilmer among others. The flower has a gold center, symbolizing the gold taken from the Cherokee tribe.