Fields, Forests & Wetlands Foods of Eastern North America
A Complete Wild Food Guide
Season: Late Summer and Fall
Urban, Rural or Both: Both
Rose Hips, the fruit that grows on Rose (Rosa) bushes after the flower dies, can be quite tart, but that is because they are full of vitamin C. Look for orange or red skins, and don't bother if wrinkled looking. They tend to be milder after a frost, but many have gone bad by then as well. I just eat them when I find them.
Gather, then cut off both ends, cut in half and scrape out all seeds and hairs. I find the larger ones taste better and are easier to clean out using a teaspoon. Make sure you clean them out completely - this is important, as the seeds have arsenic in them and the hairs will get stuck in your throat and mouth. At this point, you can either eat some right away raw, make tea from them raw, dry them out for tea, or use in baked goods or small amounts in stir fry's chopped very small.
They can be found everywhere people have gardens, and all over in the wild.
Growing this plant in your home garden:
Yes, what can I say? This is one of the most common flower garden bushes there is. The trick is getting a variety that produces large, good tasting Rose Hips. Most Rose plants are bred for the flowers, not the Rose Hips. If you ask at a nursery for a large fruited kind, they will have them. A mall near me has landscaping out front along the road and has some of the best, biggest Rose Hips I've tried.
- Plant Size: From miniature to 7 meters (23 feet) high
- Duration: Perennial
- Leaf Shape: Odd Pinnate - odd meaning a single leaflet at the tip of the leaf making the number of leaflets an odd number. Generally 5-9 leaflets per leaf, but can be a few as 3 or as many as 13
- Leaf Phyllotaxis (Leaf Arrangement) on branch: Alternate, though each leaf has Opposite leaflets and a terminal single leaf
- Leaf Size: 5-15 cm (2 to 6 inches) long
- Leaf Margin: Each leaflet is Serrated (saw toothed edge)
- Leaf Notes: Colour is variable depending on cultivar, but usually a darker green with some reddish tones and a red stem for the leaflets on the leaf stem
- Flowers: Highly variable in color, size and number of petals
- Fruit: Call a hip, forms right under where flower grows, highly variable in size and taste
- Bark: Green, but can be a woody brown or grey on older branches, most often covered with wide, oval based thorns that curve to a very sharp, hard tip
- Habitat: Most native to China, but most any garden and wild roses found in open woods, sides of woods, fields, fence lines
- Recipe search on the web here (Google search) and here (Bing search).
- Pictures on the web here (Google images) and here (Bing images).
- USDA distribution map and plant profile here.
- The Biota of North America Program (BONAP) distribution map here. BONAP map color key here.
Watch out for thorns when gathering Rose Hips. Notice the wrinkly one on the left of the cluster, leave those.
Close up, notice how rose hips often have parts of the dead rose flower left on. When eating, cut in half down center, and scoop out all the seeds and hairs - this is important, so make sure you get it all. The tiny seeds contain arsenic, and the hairs are like tiny spikes that will get stuck in your throat and mouth.
Great crop of Rose Hips with some purple/pink flowers still on bush. Rose hips are a very close relative of the apple.
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