There are actually more than one plant that go by the name Cliff rose. One of them is the Cliff Rose that grows in the western part of North America. It is a medium sized shrub or small tree. The Cliff Rose has shredded bark which the native Americans sometimes used in strips to make mats, clothing, baskets and many other useful items.
This hardy climbing plant can grow anywhere from 8-20 feet in height. It has very dark greens leaves that are white in color on the bottom. They have a waxy coating. The Cliff Rose grows in arid desert areas, grasslands, and in pine or juniper forests in dry rocky soil. It grows best in areas that range from 3500-8000 feet above sea level. It is a salt tolerate plant that can actually grow along seashore cliffs that have little water in the soil off some coastlines of western North America but is usually associated with deserts and dryer climates.
The Cliff Rose has creamy colored flowers that have five petals with a yellow center that is around an inch wide. It has 5-10 plant fruits that are only around 1/4 inch long. It has flowers in large quantities and usually blooms between the months of April and September.
Another plant that goes by the title Cliff Rose and is is the same family grows in drier lowlands from 1200-2000 meters above sea level. It blooms between the months of May and June and is absolutely covered in small flowers. The flower is a very sweet smelling bloom. It is perhaps the sweetest smelling plant in the southwest. It is a very beautiful plant when in full bloom. Lewis and Clark wrote about and illustrated this plant in their earlier botanical books about American wildflowers. It makes a favorable impression on most people when they see it in full bloom for the first time.
During the drought years of 1999-2004 many of the Cliff Roses died out but the hardy plant has since made a great comeback and is now in abundance once again during the warmer months in the deserts and rocky cliffs of America.
There is a third type of wildflower that goes by the name Cliff Rose and has knobby shaped protrusions before it blooms. It grows in the same area as the second Cliff Rose in this articles and sometimes grows side by side with it but they are very different in appearance. This plant has feathery protrusions from its blooms. It is not as aromatic or beautiful in appearance.
None of the Cliff Roses look the way that most people think of when they typically think of roses but they are in the same botanical family.