Rose Hips are the Fruit of the Rose


Rose Hips develop from pollinated flowers. Hips can be anywhere from pea-size up to the size of a small apple. They vary in shape and color; some don’t set hips at all. When you deadhead a rose, you are preventing hips from forming from the spent flowers – this is done to encourage more blooms.


Rose cultivation took off in Europe in the early 1800s. It seems the ability to bloom repeatedly throughout the year made them one of the most popular garden shrubs bearing flowers in a variety of colors. Today, thousands of rose varieties and hybrids have been developed for their shape, color, size, fragrance and even a rare rose for its lack of thorns.


Dr. Winston Craig writes about rosehips in herbal tea; commonly used by boiling the dried or crushed rosehips for 10 minutes. Two tablespoons of berries are used and a half-teaspoon of dried mint may be added to give it a different flavor. Sweeten with honey if desired.


Perfumes were important in hand lotions, cosmetics and perfumes. Rose oil is used in all women’s perfumes and 40% of men’s fragrances today. By steam-distilling the crushed rose petals of about 60,000 flowers, you can produce 30 grams of rose oil. This is a yellowish-grey liquid. Damask roses are typically used and the main fragrant constituents of rose oil are the terpenoids, geraniol, and citronellol. Bulgaria is the biggest producer and to a smaller extent, Iran and Germany.


Rose oil is popular in aromatherapy as a mild sedative and also used to treat anxiety and depression. In the coronation of British monarchs, rose oil is used once again. Rose water is made from rose oil and is used to flavor candy, desserts, syrups and as a treatment for eye irritations.


Although nearly all rose bushes produce rosehips, the tastiest for eating purposes come from the Rugusa Rosa. Hips have a tangy, fruity flavor similar to cranberries – these fruits are best harvested after the first frost when they turn bright red and are slightly soft.


Beef up your culinary talent by using fresh, dried or preserved rosehips in apple sauce, soups and stews, syrups, puddings, marmalade, tarts, breads and pie – or just plain jam or jelly. Each hip has an outer fleshy layer which may contain up to 150 seeds embedded in fine hairs. These irritating hairs should be removed before using the hips in a recipe. Rosehips are an excellent source of vitamin C with a higher content than citrus fruit.


With all these wonderful uses for rosehips, perhaps we should be deadheading only half of our spent rose garden, and save the other half for harvesting the fruits of the remarkable rose.


Esther B. Smith, author

Perfumes, hand lotions, cosmetics, and even rose-tea... There is no end to the talents of the rose, and rosehips in sauce, soups and stews seem to become impossible to imagine.