Plant of the day: wood rose

Rosa sp.

In spring, the native roses bloom with graceful pink blossoms. In the summer, they are decked with clusters of red fruit. And year-round, the elegant bushes are lush with small round leaves. A wild rose is a treat in any season or any setting, whether forest or garden. Telling the different species apart can be tricky (the local key requires fruit which isn’t helpful in spring). But at this time of year, the wood rose–Rosa gymnocarpa–stands out because it loses its sepals as its fruit begins to ripen; other species retain the sepals (and sometimes the dried remains of the stamens too) on the ends of the fruit. One of its other common names is “bald hip rose”.

Though technically edible, the small red hips are packed full of seeds that are nestled inside a dense layer of hair that grows on the inside of the fleshy shell. Not exactly succulent, they have a tart, good-for-you, vitamin-C kind of tang. I read that the seeds are a good source of Vitamin E. The petals also can be eaten, and both petal and hip can be steeped for a tea. Historically, leaves were sometimes chewed as a remedy for bee stings, while the soaked bark was a wash for sore eyes.

See how the end of the fruit is smooth?

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Filed under Edible, Good for gardens, Medicinal, Native, Plant of the day

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