Even though your roses may have started dying back, it doesn’t mean that they are no longer of any use to you.
Rose hips – which are the fruits or seed pods of rose plants – don’t ripen until the late summer or fall. We often ignore rose hips, sometimes not even seeing them to begin with because we prune the faded blossoms down before the rose hips have a chance to ripen.
However, there are a few compelling reasons to consider leaving them on the plant. These red-orange fruits (they can also be black or purple) ripen late in the year and have multiple uses.
Here are some reasons to consider using rose hips in your home or garden.
What Are Rose Hips?
Roses have long been regarded as symbols of love, beauty, and romance, but they can also be symbolic of good health.
These flowers belong to the Rosa genus in the Rosaceae family, which has more than 100 different species.
When most people grow roses, it is for their highly attractive, eye-catching flowers. These flowers can be found in shades of pink, white, red, and practically any color you could imagine. As a gardener, you’re probably always aware of the thorns on the plants too – even if you view them only as an annoyance!
However, what many people don’t realize is that roses have far more value beyond just their flowers. That value can be found in the rosehip.
The rosehip can be found beneath the rose petal. Typically red or orange in color, these rose hips can also be found in shades of black or yellow. They grow only after the petals have bloomed and begun to fall off the plant.
These round, seed-filled bulbs are rich in nutrients and have powerful disease-fighting properties. They can be used for a variety of health functions.
Here’s what you need to know.
Where to Find Rose Hips
All roses have hips, buy rugosa roses – which are native shrub rose species – generally have the best tasting rose hips. They tend to be the largest, most abundant, and easiest to harvest, too.
If you harvest your rose hips, make sure you don’t use those from shrubs that were treated with pesticides (especially not those that are for plants besides edibles).
You can also purchase rose hips online and from health food stores.
Harvest rose hips after the year’s first frost has touched the leaves. A light frost is ideal, since a heavier frost may cause the hips to freeze solid.
Waiting until after the first light frost is ideal since the frost will cause the hips to become a bit sweeter. Plus, it will ensure that you aren’t encouraging the rose shrub to put out new growth that would only be killed at the frost.
To harvest, just pluck the hips off the canes. You can also clip them with a pair of scissors, but it’s a good idea to wear a pair of gloves so you don’t get scratched by the thorns.
Look for rose hips that are firm and a bright red or orange color. The shriveled or more dried-up rose hips will still be safe to eat but not nearly as tasty. They might be too mushy for you to pick from the plant, too.
Clean the rose hips thoroughly before you use them. Trim the stem and blossom ends with a pair of scissors or a knife. You can use the whole rosehip but you might find that it’s best to remove the seeds. The seeds have a hairy coating that can be irritating to some. Rinse the hips with cool water before you use them.
Rose Hip Nutrition Facts
Rose hips are seeds, and as seeds, they offer a variety of health benefits.
Just one 2-tablespoon serving of wild rose hips has 26 calories and 6 grams of carbohydrates. You’ll get a whopping 4 grams of fiber and 4% of your daily vitamin A requirements (along with high levels of vitamin E and B5, among others).
However, where rose hips stand out is in their vitamin C content. These tiny nutritional powerhouses contain a whopping 76% of the DV for vitamin C.
Much of this has to do with the fact that rose hips are high in beta carotene and lycopene, two carotenoid pigments that can promote eye and skin health. They also have high levels of antioxidants, which can lower inflammation and help your body fight various diseases.
As with most plants, the nutritional content of rose hips can vary depending on the soil quality and type, the growing conditions, and how the rose hips proceed. If you cook the rose hips, they’ll likely be less nutritious than raw rose hips – but still healthy nonetheless.
8 Rose Hips Uses
Leave your spent flowers on your rose bushes over the winter, and you’ll be rewarded with the sight of rose hips later on. These small, red-colored seed balls look like small crab apples or large berries.
Not only are they beautiful to look at, offering gardeners ornamental appeal, but they are also edible. Rose hips have many medicinal and culinary benefits, so consider harvesting a few to be used in your home or homestead.
Here are rose hips uses.
Because roses are in the same family as apples and crab apples, rose hips bear a strong resemblance to these fruits.
They also have a similar flavor, with a small amount of tartness.
You can cook rose hips to extract the juice. Simply cook the rose hips over low heat until the liquid has seeped from the fruits (or about 15 minutes). Strain the juice through a cheesecloth and use it immediately or freeze it for later use.
When you make rose hip jelly, you may have to mix them with other fruits, like cranberries or apples, to help them go a bit further. One pound of rose hips equals only 2 cups of juice.
Making a rosehip syrup is a great way to create an all-natural tonic. This tonic can be used to treat the symptoms of colds, influenza, and other illnesses. It also has benefits as a stomach tonic.
Rosehip soup is something else you can make with these fruits. It’s rich in antioxidants and a classic Swedish recipe.
Also known as nyponsoppa, it is traditionally served with small biscuits and enhanced with flavorings like vanilla. It’s a sweet soup that is more like a dessert than anything else!
You can even make seasonings out of rose hips. Rubs made with sugar and rose hips work great at tenderizing meat.
Rosehip tea is a classic European beverage. You can use fresh rose hips (which are more nutritious) or you can dehydrate them to save them for later. Again, dehydrated rose hips won’t be quite as nutritious as fresh ones, but this will let you preserve some of your harvests for later.
Steep 4-8 rose hips in a cup of boiling water for 15 minutes. Don’t use aluminum containers for this, since the aluminum destroys vitamin C.
There are plenty of desserts that can be made with rose hips. Any dessert that calls for cranberries, apples, or similar fruits tends to do well with rose hip substitutions.
Some options include rosehip cookies, pastries, and pudding.
7. Powdered or Dried Supplement
Although rose hips are available at many nutrition stores in a capsulated form, you can also turn them into your own powdered or dried supplement for medicinal use.
More studies need to be done on the medicinal uses of rose hips. However, based on limited studies and anecdotal evidence, some people use rose hips to provide:
- Anti-aging benefits
- Relief from arthritis pain
- Help with fat loss
- A boost to heart health
When ground into a fine powder, rose hips can be used as a dietary supplement to improve joint health, provide anti-inflammatory effects, and more. As a powder, rose hips can serve as a flavor enhancer, too.
Of course, you can also extract the oil of rose hips and use it as you would any other essential oil too (such as in a diffuser). As you might expect, rosehip oil smells fantastic!
8. Feeding Wildlife
Last but not least, you can always leave the rose hips right on the plants. All kinds of wildlife, from birds to deer, enjoy feeding on fresh rose hips.
What to Keep in Mind When Using Rose Hips
It’s not yet known whether rose hips have any side effects that you need to watch out for. Some people report that they suffered from nausea, constipation, heartburn, or an upset stomach after eating large amounts of rose hips. This is unsurprising since those are the same side effects you might experience after consuming large amounts of vitamin C.
Too much vitamin C can affect people who have recurring kidney stones, hemochromatosis, or sickle cell anemia – so you might have to talk to your doctor before using rose hips if you have these conditions, too.
Of course, it’s not a good idea to consume rose hips if you are pregnant or nursing, since again, there haven’t been enough studies about the effects of rose hips to know whether it’s safe for a young baby.
Always talk to your doctor if you plan on consuming rose hips for medicinal purposes. However, know that these nutritious treats have lots to offer besides just their sheer beauty.
They’re aromatic, tasty, and beautiful to look at – so consider harvesting some rose hips from your garden today!