Iowa State Flower - Wild Prairie Rose

Roses grow wild throughout North America.

Roses grow wild throughout North America.

The wild rose has represented the state of Iowa since 1897. Although the Iowa state legislature does not stipulate a particular species of the wild rose as the state’s flower, the wild prairie rose (Rosa pratincola) has generally been accepted as the official state flower. The wild prairie rose is also the state flower of North Dakota.


Wild prairie roses bloom throughout the state of Iowa from June until late summer. This perennial flower, which has been around for about 35 million years, is native to North American prairies. The petals of the flower blossoms range in color from pale pink to a deep rose pink. Sometimes the blossoms are white. Yellow stamens surround the center of the flower. The flower’s five petals close to protect the stamen during nightfall and when there is rain. It’s common to see at least three flowers on a single stem. Both the flower’s petals and rose hips are edible.


Depending on the variety of prairie rose, the plant's leaves usually appear in groups of five, seven or nine leaflets. However, some varieties of the wild prairie rose have only three leaflets. Others can have as many as 11 leaflets. The leaflets on the wild prairie rose are sharply toothed and oval in shape. The woody stems of the flowers and the trunk of the shrub have reddish thorns.

Rose Hips

Rose hips, which are the fruit of the flower, form at the base of the wild rose. The fruit has antioxidant properties as the rose hips contain vitamins C, E and K, bio-flavonoids and beta-carotene -- nutrients known for boosting the immune system. Rose hips also contain pectin -- a soluble dietary fiber. The rose hips of the flower are used to make perfume and jelly. Some Native American tribes used the flower’s rose hips and roots for medicinal purposes.

About the Prairie Rose

You can find the wild prairie rose growing in fields, meadows and on the edge of wooded areas. Under the right conditions, you may also see the flowers growing alongside highways. The plant thrives best in areas with sun to partial shade. The flowers have no nectar, but insects are attracted to the plant’s pollen. Actually a shrub, the prairie rose generally grows to about 18 inches tall. These flowers grow in the wild but are easy to grow in gardens as well. The best time to plant the flower in your garden is in the fall. Wild prairie roses are hardy plants that go dormant in the winter, with new growth appearing in the spring. They do not grow well from seeds, so you should start with a young plant or stem cutting.

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