Information on Burnet Rose

Common Name: Burnet Rose
Scientific Name: Rosa spinosissima
Irish Name: Briúlán
Family Group: Rosaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Burnet Rose is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.


This little rose is such a delight to find, usually on sandy soil, limestone pavements and grassy heaths.  It's an erect, bushy shrub, about 50cm in height with numerous straight thorns and stiff bristles.  Its pretty 3-5cm flowers can be white, cream or pink and are comprised of five heart-shaped petals.  They flower from May to August after which the bush displays its fruit in spherical, purplish-black hips which still have the remnants of the sepals at their tops. The leaves are 3-5 pairs of small rounded leaflets. This shrub usually sheds its leaves in winter.  It is a native plant belonging to the family Rosaceae.  There are some microspecies.

I first came across this shrub growing near the beach in Kilcoole, Co Wicklow in 1978 and photographed it there in 1985 and in the Burren in 2005.

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Rose, Burnet
Rose, Burnet

It is said that the Romans decorated the tombs of the dead with roses in the belief that this custom would protect their loved ones from evil spirits. 

 'Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns. I am thankful that thorns have roses'.

                                                                Alphonse Karr (1808-1890)