A shrub to about 10 ft high, rather laxly branched; young stems green; prickles straight or slightly curved, usually rather stout, gradually narrowing from the base. Leaflets five or seven, elliptic to ovate or ovate-lanceolate, sometimes obovate, rounded to acute or acuminate at the apex, 5⁄8 to 13⁄4 in. long, the terminal leaflet not larger than the others, light green above, usually densely hairy on both sides, but the underside sometimes almost glabrous except on the veins and then rough to the touch, teeth simple or, more usually, compound and glandular. Stipules with short, triangular free tips. Flowers solitary, or few in a corymb, pink or white, fragrant, 11⁄2 to 21⁄4 in. wide. Pedicels up to 1 in. long, clad with glandular bristles which sometimes extend onto the receptacle. Sepals up to 1 in. long, glandular or glandular-bristly outside, expanded at the apex, the outer ones with pinnately arranged appendages. Styles usually hairy. Stylar aperture narrow, 1⁄6 to 1⁄4 the diameter of the disk. Fruits commonly globular, or broadest just above or below the middle; sepals erect or spreading, deciduous before the fruit is fully ripe.
Native of much of Europe, including the British Isles, and of Asia Minor and the Caucasus. It has a considerable resemblance to the common dog rose, which differs from it in its strongly hooked prickles and in having the leaflets glabrous on both sides or slightly downy beneath. It is suitable only for the wilder parts of the garden and produces very pleasant effects when laden with bright red fruits in autumn.
R. tomentosa × R. gallica – This hybrid occurs occasionally in the wild, resembling R. tomentosa in most characters, but showing the influence of R. gallica in the mixed armature, leaves often with five leaflets, and larger, brighter pink flowers on longer pedicels. The name R. × marcyana is sometimes used for this cross, but the rose so named is probably a form of R. tomentosa (Boulenger, Bull. Jard. Bot. Brux., Vol. 12 (1932), p. 445). The identity of the rose figured as R. × marcyana in Willmott, The Genus Rosa, Vol. II, p. 335, t., is uncertain.
R. sherardii Davies R. omissa Déségl. – Of more compact habit than R. tomentosa but with similar prickles. Branches with a pruinose bloom when young (as in R. mollis). Leaflets often glaucous above, with usually compound teeth. Sepals 3⁄8 to 7⁄8 in. long, hence on the average shorter than in R. tomentosa, but with the same well developed lateral appendages. It resembles R. villosa and R. mollis, and differs from R. tomentosa, in the wide stylar aperture. Sepals persisting until the fruit is fully ripe.
R. sherardii was for a long time confused with R. villosa, R. mollis and R. tomentosa and, when finally recognised as a distinct species, was usually known as R. omissa. It is fairly widely distributed in Europe and occurs throughout Great Britain, though infrequently in the south and most commonly in Scotland. It is rare in gardens and deserves to be more widely grown, especially in its grey-leaved form.