Rose hips are colorful, edible fruits of rose plants. The fruit forms directly below the blossoms, which ripen in the Fall, after the blossoms have died. Many of us do not observe these ornamental fruits because the blossoms are trimmed from the plant as they die during gardening. Roses are in the same family as the crabapple and both fruits have a similar taste and appearance.
Rose hip usage has been documented far back into Chinese and Roman civilizations. One Roman, Pliny, recorded 32 different ailments that responded to rose preparations. In the first century A.D., the species Rosa Canina was used as a dog bite remedy. Ancient Chinese herbalists used them for digestive ailments and Native Americans used them for muscle cramps. Homeopathic physicians still use them for the same purposes in today’s world.
During World war II the government urged the planting of Victory Gardens and rose hips, from such gardens, were promoted as a good source of vitamin C. The rose hips were harvested and used as side-dishes, jams and preserves. Nutritionally, rose hips contain 1500 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams of fruit, while oranges contain only 53 milligrams. Therefore, rose hips have an astounding thirty times more vitamin C than the highly touted orange!
Rose hips are also good sources of vitamin E, vitamin K, calcium and magnesium. Recent analysis has shown they also contain antioxidant flavonoids. Flavonoids are only synthesized in plants and protect the body from free-radicals, which damage cells. Therefore, sources of flavonoids may be used to prevent or delay the onset of diseases, such as arthritis, cancer and coronary disease.
Rose hips are used fresh in cooking, or can be dried or preserved. The center seeds are removed and the rose hip skins are used as the edible portion. The most popular way to prepare them is as a tea. Any variety of rose hips can be used to make tea, but the most popular species is Rosa Rugosa. It provides a large reddish-orange rose hip, which presents a similar colored tea. The tea sports a tangy, fruity flavor and can be made from either fresh or dried rose hip skins. Drinking this tea can give your body a healthy immune system boost.