We’re all familiar with the jagged edged leaves, thorny stems and fragrant flowers of the dozens of species and thousands of hybrids associated with the Rose Family, Rosaceae. But more than just a pretty flower, this plant is medicinal and edible too, from the root to the hip.
Traditionally, the part of the plant used most is the rose hips: the deep orange-red “fruits” of the rose. The species that foragers usually gather from is Dog Rose, Rosa canina, and can be added to salads, sauces, soups and herbal infusions.
Rose hips are most visible after the flower petals drop in late summer and become ripe after the first frost of the year. Mama nature plans her gifts well, and that's why Native Americans made use of this vitamin rich plant when other sources of nutrients were scarce in the winter months. Each hip, also referred to as “haw”, holds a collection of small seeds and hairs, which must be removed before consumption.
Rose hips have been used for thousands of years to help treat a variety of ailments. The medicinal benefit Rose hips are best known for is their high levels of vitamin C (a handful of rose hips contain the same amount of vitamin C as sixty oranges!) In addition, the vitamin C enhances the integrity of connective tissue and reduces inflammation.
Rose hips also contain flavonoids, a compound that plays a key role in this plant’s medicinal abilities. The flavonoid and vitamin C together support the immune system and counter the stress response in the body. Flavonoids also make the vitamin C content more effective.
Antioxidant properties within the plant help support the heart and cardiovascular system, making Rose hips effective in daily tonics to enhance the vascular system.
Rose hips also contain a high amount of pectin, which can help to draw out environmental toxins and support a detoxification of the body after subsequent exposure.
Dog Rose is said to be one of the longest living plants. One particular bush, in Hildesheim,Germany, was said to have been planted by Emperor Charlemagne’s son in AD 850. And in A Modern Herbal, Maud Grieve writes of rose hips as being in long official use in the British Pharmacopoeia for refrigerant and astringent properties.
In addition to cooking up rose hips to eat, indigenous groups used rose hip tea or syrup to support the body during respiratory infections. As well as the Santa Clara Pueblo who used it as a salve to directly encourage the healing of sore mouths.
This time of year, during cold and flu season, is a great opportunity to boost your immunity. Terrific allies such as organically sourced rose hips are found in our Maple Honey Fire Cider and our Sweet Fire Oxymel Syrup. As winter approaches, find yourself prepared with the power of herbal remedies.
“Rose Hips.” Rose Hips | The Northwest School For Botanical Studies, http://www.herbaleducation.net/rose-hips.
“Foods Indigenous to the Western Hemisphere.” American Indian Health - Health, https://aihd.ku.edu/foods/rosehips.html.
Harford , Robin. “Everything You Need to Know about Rosehips.” EATWEEDS, 31 Oct. 2021, https://www.eatweeds.co.uk/rosehip-faq.
Iannotti, Marie. “Rose Hips: Edible Treats after the Rose Fades.” The Spruce, The Spruce, 7 Oct. 2021, https://www.thespruce.com/what-are-rose-hips-and-what-do-they-do-1403046.