ROSACEAE Rosa canina
A deciduous shrub with arched, downward-curving branches, which are armed with stout hooked prickles. The fruit consists of numerous hairy achenes enclosed in a fleshy, amphora-shaped, bright orange/red casing a.k.a. the well known rosehip.
It is an indication of how blase we can be when this lovely plant is so familiar that many people don’t stop to enjoy these roses. But that is their loss.
The plant can vary considerably in shape and form. Leaves are odd-pinnate with five to seven ovate to elliptic, serrated leaves. Petioles and midribs typically bear prickles while the sweet-scented flowers have large canopied pink or white petals.
Evidence of Dog Rose hips have been recorded in and around ancient settlements suggesting that the shrub has a long association with mankind.
The provenance of the common name – Dog Rose – is not clear. Popular belief holds that the name is a reference to the medieval Latin rosa canina, stemming from the ancient Latin (originally Greek) word cynorrhodon. The plants root was believed to be used as a herbal remedy to cure the effects of being bitten by a mad – or rabid – dog. Another theory is that the ancient Greeks may have just been denigrating the worth of Dog Rose as a garden plant by using the belittleing term ‘dog’.
The hips are the medicinally sought-after elements. Their makeup includes vitamin B complex, vitamin C, carotenes, pectin, tannins, sugars as well as malic and citric acids. The fruits contain fatty oil.
The best-known and widely used herbal remedy deriving from the plant is rosehip tea. which has mild diuretic, astringent, tonic and mildly laxative actions. Fresh hips are an outstanding source of vitamin C. Whether fresh or dried, they are beneficial for convalescents, against fatigue and colds. Rose hip tea is most effective when made by macerating the crushed hips (without the hard achenes) and not by a long boiling process.A decoction from the hips can be used as a gargle for bleeding gums and will alleviate toothache.
Fresh hips are also used for syrups, jams and tonic wine.
Dog Rose grows throughout Europe in scrub hedges and woods. It is the most common British wild rose, though less prolific in throughout Scotland.
Flowering time: June to July – N. hemisphere