Make way for the shrub of the year in Latvia

Take note – story published 1 year ago

If you thought we were done with announcing the winners of the nature 'of the year' after the bird, the plant, the moss, the archeology monument, the habitat, the animal, the invertebrate, and the mushroom... you were oh so wrong! Make way for the shrub of the year 2023, chosen by the Latvian Dendrologist Society.

The shrub of the year in Latvia is the sweet briar (Rosa rubiginosa)!

Around 15 species of wild roses of different origins are present in the wild in Latvia, both highly ecologically aggressive and even invasive alien species, as well as rare and protected wild species.

The sweet briar is called the "scent-leaf rose" in Latvian and is one of the species of natural origin that is rare and sparse in Latvia.

Recently, the species was fairly widespread in Zemgale, as well as in certain regions elsewhere in Latvia – in the Daugava valley between Jēkabpils and Koknese, at Priekuļi, etc., but the survey in recent years shows that in intensive agricultural regions the species has largely disappeared.

It has obtained its Latvian name from the leaves, which have a pronounced scent of apples when rubbed.

Roses have specific ecological requirements: they love sun, which means that foresty grassland cannot be their home for a long time, while also highly mown grasslands are not suitable for growth. Species-friendly management – extensive grazing and mowing, while maintaining certain clusters of bush, is not often practiced because it is not covered by lawn management guidelines, and therefore the species has remained mainly on the roadside, at the forest edges, etc. Even roadsides are often heavily mowed.

The result is that wild roses, including rare ones, are getting even rarer and gradually disappearing from their historical habitats.

Sightings of the sweet briar can be reported on the nature observation portal

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