Sweet Briar

(Rosa rubiginosa)

Sweet Briar (Flowering), photo: Tim Rudman

What is sweet briar?

  • Sweet briar is a troublesome weed of pasture.

How to identify sweet briar

  • Sweet briar is a member of the rose family. It forms a deciduous shrub 1 - 3 m high with stems carrying prickles and bristles. Suckering occurs freely from the crown, and bushes often exceed 1 m in diameter at the base.
  • The leaves have five to seven oval leaflets, each with serrated edges. The light pink flowers have a pleasant fragrance, while the fruit (called hips) are bright red when ripe and often have bristles.
  • The closely related dog rose (Rosa canina) is also found occasionally in Tasmania. It differs from sweet briar in having a larger flower which is white rather than pink.
  • For help in identifying sweet briar, search the Dennis Morris Weeds and Endemic Flora database for Sweet briar illustrations. If you are still in doubt about the weed you are dealing with, contact Biosecurity Tasmania on 03 6165 3777 for help.
Sweet Briar Fruit, photo: Tim Rudman
Images top & above: Sweet briar flowering & sweet briar fruit, both © Tim Rudman.

Sweet briar in Tasmania

  • Sweet briar is not declared in Tasmania.
  • Sweet briar is found throughout the agricultural areas of Tasmania in both high and low rainfall areas. Sweet briar occurs along roadsides, on waste land and in pastures with low grazing pressure.
  • Sweet briar has no fodder value for sheep and cattle and stock do not readily graze close to bushes. Dense infestations in pasture decrease productivity and can cause difficulty in mustering stock. Sweet briar infestations can also harbour vermin such as rabbits.
Detailed management and control guidelines for sweet briar can be found in the Sweet briar Control Guide. Refer also to Herbicides for Sweet briar Control. For further information see Weed Links and Resources

See also:
Herbicides for Sweet Briar Control
Weed Links and Resources

Other useful links:
Pest Genie

Sweet Briar Control Guide

Spread of Sweet briar

  • Sweet briar spreads mainly by the dispersal of seed. Birds eat the hips, and seeds germinate from the droppings. Seeds can also spread via water along creeks and waterways.
  • Sweet briar may also regenerate from root and crown fragments left after mechanical disturbance of an infestation.

Physical removal

  • Dozer blades or chains are effective methods for removing sweet briar. Remove as much as possible of the root system to avoid re-growth from root pieces remaining in the soil.


  • Deep ploughing will remove sweet briar, while establishing a well managed, vigorous pasture helps prevent the re-establishment of the weed. Repeated cultivation will control seedlings and small re-growth.


  • Sweet briar will not usually establish in well managed and grazed pasture. The seedlings are delicate and heavy grazing with sheep will usually control the weed.
  • Goats will eat practically the whole of the bush and if present in sufficient numbers can eliminate entire infestations.

Chemical control

  • A number of herbicides are registered for use on sweet briar in Tasmania. See Herbicides for Sweet Briar Control for more information.
  • Regardless of which herbicide is used, treated bushes should be left undisturbed for at least six months after herbicide application.
  • Treated bushes should be checked for regrowth in the two years following application, as regrowth may not appear for up to two years after treatment.
  • Regrowth should be treated with herbicide only after regrowth is at least 300 mm high.

Herbicides for Sweet Briar Control

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