Last updated on May 22nd, 2023 at 10:50 am

The sweet briar is a wild rose plant native to Europe and Western Asia. It also widely grows in North America along roadsides, pastures, and country homes. The deciduous shrubs belong to the family Rosaceae or the family of roses.

The two most common species of sweet briar rose are R. rubiginosa or Rosa eglanteria, or Eglantine rose.

The plants are dense deciduous shrubs that grow up to 2–3 meters in height and spread as much to the sides. The stems are thorny with hooked prickles. The flowers are small with five petals, and the foliage has an apple-like scent. The center of the flower is yellow with numerous stamens. Flowers bloom in clusters in late spring through summer. The sweet briar flower is associated with its dainty, beautiful look. The flowers are pretty, and the red, oblong, berry-like fruits look attractive.

Sweet briar rose has existed for a long time and has been popular in Europe. The sweet briar flower’s meaning is also connected to the fragrance and the physical features of these flowering shrubs.

The name ‘rubiginosa’ refers to rusty in Latin. The name is linked to the brownish-red tint on the R. rubiginosa variety leaves.

The name eglantine is derived from the Middle English eglentyn, Anglo-French eglent, and Old French aiglantin. The name is based on the Latin words acus, meaning ‘needle’ or aculeus, referring to ‘thorny or prickle.’ 

The word sweet used in the name is connected to the sweet, refreshing apple fragrance of these wild, thorny rose bushes. The word ‘briar’ is derived from the old English words ‘brer or braert,’ the term for thorny shrubs. In India, this rose variety is called ‘Gul Nusreen.’

What does the Sweet briar flower symbolize?

Sweet briars are flowers that have been extremely popular in English literature for centuries. The Sweet briar flower’s meaning and symbolism have much to do with its fragrance and beauty. These pretty flowers express love, talent, poetry, and genius.

Due to the sweet scent of these flowers, they have been linked to the idea of purity. Sweet briar flowers are connected to the Holy Mother. 

However, everything about sweet briar is not positive. Due to the thorns these shrubs feature, they are linked to danger, wounded love, and rejection.

The sweet briar flower is mentioned in several old English literary pieces. That ties the sweet briar flower meaning to deep sentiments and emotions.

All in all, the sweet briar flower symbolic meanings are:

  • danger
  • wounded love
  • rejection

Meaning of the Sweet briar flower colors

Pink color

The pink sweet briar flower meaning is similar to most pink flowers. It expresses love and affection, secret love, and admiration. It expresses the emotion ‘I wound to heal’ due to its medicinal properties. 

The essence of the sweet briar flower is associated with fueling constant love for others and oneself. It is linked to the courage of self to witness hurtful behavior and the strength to act according to one’s heartfelt desire.

White color

The sweet briar flower is deeply associated with feeling wounded due to the plant’s thorny nature. But the beauty and the fresh fragrance connect the white flowers to purity, innocence, and sympathy like most white flowers. Sweet briar flowers also stand for simplicity and humbleness.

Interesting facts about the Sweet briar flowers

  • The green stems of sweet briar plants grow upright or arched when young. As they mature, the stems become woody and rough.
  • The petals of these wild roses are used for treating headaches and dizziness.
  • Also, by mixing them with honey, nerve tonics, and blood purifiers are made from the petals.
  • Oil extracted from the seeds is rich in Vitamin E. The oil is often used for treating skin conditions, wrinkles, burns, and other scars.
  • This wild rose was one of the favorites of Queen Elizabeth I of England and was cultivated in England even before 1551. Queen Elizabeth I adopted the ‘Eglantine,’ or the sweet briar rose, to symbolize royalty and purity.
  • In the olden days, the thorny shrubs were planted mainly as hedging plants in England and Scotland. That has also earned sweet briar rose the name of Scottish hedge-rose.
  • The sweet briar also finds its place on the ‘Phoenix Jewel’ (ca. 1570-80), a pendant that displays the portrait bust of Queen Elizabeth I of England. Red and white Sweet briars and Tudor roses (floral emblem) border one side, and a phoenix rises from the flames on the rear side. So deep was the association that the Queen was sometimes referred to as Eglantine.
  • The extremely popular Sweet briar rose, or Eglantine also finds mention in William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  • This wild rose was introduced to Australia and New Zealand by the early settlers in the 1800s. The ornamental rose was called ‘Te Mihanere’ by the Maoris. The literal translation is ‘The Missionary.’
  • Being one of the earliest varieties of roses, these wild roses were one of the first of their kinds from which perfumes were produced. 
  • Sweet briar flowers and rose hips or fruits are also used in skin care products and natural oils. Some useful products from sweet briar fruits are rosehip oil, rosehip tea, rosehip syrup, rosehip wine, and rosehip powder.
  • Being high in beta-carotene, oil produced from this plant is said to heal scars, hydrate the skin, and delay signs of aging.

How to grow Sweet briar flowers

Sweet briar plants are hardy and grow almost anywhere. They are common in pastures, ner fields, and cottage gardens with a sunny continental climate. Sweet briar flowers bloom mostly in pink. 

  1. Plant the sweet briar flower in acidic soil, which is fertile, humus-rich, moist, and well-drained.
  2. Choose a spot with full sun.
  3. Water when the soil surface is slightly dry (except in winter) with no fixed watering frequency. 
  4. Apply fertilizer several times during the growing season, but only in small amounts each time.

How to care for Sweet briar flowers

  1. Water the sweet briar flower every 2-3 days during dry seasons.
  2. Use liquid fertilizer twice a month and use slow-release fertilizer every two months. 
  3. Add more nutrients for more lush plants and flowers. 
  4. Use a slow-release organic fertilizer in winter, so the new shoots and buds in next year’s bloom will be lush; these flowers will be large and gorgeous.
  5. Promptly cut off faded flowers and thin, overlapping branches, leaving only young and strong branches. 
  6. During winter dormancy, careful pruning is recommended.

Best time to gift Sweet briar flowers

Being delicate and wild, sweet briar roses are less popular than others for gifting flowers. However, a bouquet containing these old roses expresses being emotionally hurt.

Sweet briar roses found their place in wedding bouquets in olden times and are still preferred by some for their simple, county charm.


When a real believer in the language of flowers is hurt, she does not call 911; instead, she phones a florist and has a sweet briar flower delivered to her beloved. 

A bouquet featuring this flower symbolizes “I am wounded”—typically, emotionally injured, but exceptions are permitted.

If you want to know and learn more about flowers, we at PansyMaiden can help you. Check out our fun, easy-to-read, and informative flower-related content that you will surely enjoy!