Colony-forming shrub to 1 m tall Stem: densely covered in slender, straight, unequal prickles. Leaves: pinnately compound, hairy-stalked, main axis (rachis) hairy, usually with nine leaflets. The leaflets are 1 - 6 cm long, inversely egg-shaped to elliptic or obong with a pointed tip, toothed, firm, hairy beneath, and hairless and shiny above. Flowers: arranged in nearly flat-topped clusters (corymbose) at the end of current season's stems and short lateral branches of older stems, about 4 cm across, with a nearly hairless stalk and floral tube (hypanthium), 1 - 1.5 cm long persistent sepals that are usually erect and come together in fruit, and pink to deep rose petals 1.5 - 3 cm long. Fruit: bony achenes surrounded by the mature floral tube (hip). The hip is purplish or red, 10 - 15 mm across, and nearly spherical with a beak of sepals. Achenes 5 - 5.5 mm long, elliptic, plump. Stipules: subtending leaves, enlarged, non-toothed to sometimes glandular-toothed near tip, hairy.
Similar species: Rosa acicularis, Rosa arkansana var. suffulta, Rosa blanda, and Rosa cinnamomea have hairless flower stalks and floral tubes and erect, persistent sepals. Rosa acicularis is distinguished by its five to seven leaflets and stems that are prickly throughout. R. blanda has five to seven leaflets and smooth upper internodes and current year's lateral branches. Rosa cinnamomea differs by its coarse, stout, recurved prickles subtending the stipules.
Flowering: mid June to mid July
Habitat and ecology: Wasteland along roadsides and railroads.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Etymology: Rosa is the Latin name for a rose. Arkansana is named after the Arkansas River. Suffulta means "propped up," referring to the extra reduced leaflets between the stipular lobes of the original material.