Wild Roses

M ost parts of rose shrubs are edible and the fruit (hips), which remain on teh branches throughout the winter, are available when many other species have finished for the season. These hips can be eaten fresh or dried and are most commonly used in tea, jam, jelly , syrup and wine. Usually only w hen the fleshy outer layer is eaten. Because they are so seedy, some indigenous peoples considered rose hips as famine food rather than regular fare.


Fruits scarlet to purplish round to pear-shaped, berry-like hips, 1.5cm-3 cm long, with a fleshy outer layer enclosing many stuff-hairy achenes.

Blooms June to August. Hips ripen August to September.

Thorny to prickly, deciduous shrubs, often spindly. 30 cm to 2 m tall. Spines generally straight. Leaves alternate, pinnately divided into about 5-7 oblong, toothed leaflets, generally odd in number. Flowers light pink to deep rose 5 petalled, fragrant, usually growing at the tips of branches. Grows in a wide range of habitat: dry rocky slopes, forest edges, woodlands and clearings, roadsides and streamsides at mid- to low-level elevations.

R ose hips are rich in vitamins A, B, E and K are one of our best native sources of vitamin C. Three hips can contain as much as a whole orange! During World War II, when oranges could not be imported, British and Scandinavian people collected hundreds of tonnes of rose hips to make a nutritional syrup. The vitamin C content of fresh hips varies greatly but that of commercial “natural” rose hip products can fluctuate even more.

small shrub, to 1.5 m tall, with well-developed thorns at its joints, and generally no prickles except occaisoinally on new wood. Flowers large (4-8 cm wide), mostly single, and 2.5-2 cm-long hips. Grows in moist, open areas (shorelines, forest edges, streambanks, roadsides) in southern BC.

small shrub, 20-50 cm tall, with well-developed throws at its joints, no small bristles or prickles on upper stems, small clusters of 3.-5 cm wide flowers followed by 6-10 mm long hips. Grows in thickets, prairies and on riverbanks

G rows to 1.5 m tall, with bristly, prickly branches and small clusters of 5.-7 cm-wide flowers or 1-2 cm long hips. Grows in open woods, thickets and on rocky slopes in BC. Prickly rose is Alberta’s floral emblem.

R ose petals have a delicate rose flavour with a hint of sweetness and may be eaten alone as a trail nibble, added  to teas, jellies and wines, or candied. Adding a few rose petals to a regular salad instantly turns it into a gourmet conversation piece and guests are often surprised at how delicate and sweetly delicious the petals taste. Do not add commercial rose petals to salads, however, as these are often sprayed with chemicals.