Rose Hips - Health Benefits, Uses and Interesting Facts

A ripening hip of a Nootka rose
A ripening hip of a Nootka rose | Source

Roses are beautiful and popular flowers. They are loved for their appearance, their fragrance and the oil obtained from their petals. Rose oil has both culinary and cosmetic uses. The fruit of the rose, which is known as a rose hip, is also useful. It's nutritious and has a pleasant taste. It also has health benefits. Like the petals, it can be used to make an oil.

Rose hips can be eaten raw. They can also be cooked to make jams, jellies, syrups, soups, teas and wines. Their seeds contain an oil that is popular in the cosmetics industry. This oil is known as rose hip oil, rose hip seed oil or rosa mosqueta oil.

Rose hips are usually red or orange when ripe but may sometimes be purple or even black. The hips from wild roses are often considered to be the tastiest kind. All the ones that I've eaten have a flavour that resembles the taste of apples.

Rose hips are best when freshly picked. Dried rose hips are useful, too. They're often found in health food stores. Prepared products made from rose hips can also be bought in stores, but they can be made at home as well.

A Nootka rose in bloom; the ovaries of the flowers become fruits, or  rose hips
A Nootka rose in bloom; the ovaries of the flowers become fruits, or rose hips | Source

Parts of a Flower

The ovary becomes the fruit (rose hip) after pollination and fertilization. The ovules become the seeds.
The ovary becomes the fruit (rose hip) after pollination and fertilization. The ovules become the seeds. | Source

Carpel and Pistil of a Flower

The stigma, style and ovary make up a carpel of a flower. Some flowers have several carpels joined together, making a pistil. If a flower contains only one carpel, the carpel may be called either a pistil or a carpel.

Production of Rose Hips - Pollination and Fertlization

The female part of a flower, or the carpel, consists of three parts: a stigma that traps pollen grains, a long style leading from the stigma to the ovary, and the ovary itself. The ovary contains smaller structures called ovules. Each ovule contains an egg cell.

The male part of a flower is called the stamen. It consists of an anther, which produces pollen grains, and a stalk called a filament that attaches the anther to the flower. Pollen grains produce sperm nuclei.

Pollination

A fruit, such as a rose hip, develops after pollination and fertilization. During pollination, pollen grains land on the stigma of a flower. Each pollen grain produces a tube that grows through the style to the ovary. The pollen grain sends a generative nucleus into the tube. This nucleus divides into two sperm nuclei during its journey down the tube. The sperm nuclei reach the ovary and enter an ovule.

Fertilization

Each ovule contains an egg cell and an endosperm mother cell. The egg cell is fertilized by one of the sperm nuclei and develops into an embryo. The endosperm mother cell joins with the other sperm nucleus and then produces endosperm, a material that acts as food for the embryo.

Both wild and cultivated roses produce rose hips.
Both wild and cultivated roses produce rose hips. | Source

Production of Rose Hips - Fruits and Seeds

The ovule of a fertlized flower develops a tough seed coat, which protects the developing embryo. At this point the ovule is known as a seed. The ovary loses its stigma, style and petals and becomes a fruit. The fruit is adapted in some way to distribute the seeds. For example, birds and other animals are attracted to rose hips and eat them. The seeds travel through an animal's digestive tract unharmed and are deposited with the feces in a new area, where they can (hopefully) germinate and grow into a new plant.

A ripening Nootka rose hip
A ripening Nootka rose hip | Source

Vitamins C and A in Rose Hips

The best rose hips are those that have just been picked, since they retain the highest level of nutrients. One little rose hip has only a small quantity of nutrients, but a handful or bowl of hips would be very valuable nutritionally.

Rose hips are very rich in vitamin C when they're fresh. Unfortunately, Vitamin C is a delicate nutrient. The vitamin is destroyed by heat. While cooking rose hips can create tasty products, it also reduces the nutritional value of the hips. Heat used to dry rose hips can also destroy vitamin C. Another problem is that vitamin C is water soluble and will therefore leach into the water used to cook rose hips. In addition, the vitamin is lost when the hips are stored.

Rose hips are also a good source of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. Our bodies convert beta-carotene into the form of vitamin A that we need. Hips contain other forms of vitamin A in addition to beta-carotene. Since vitamin A is fat soluble, absorption of the vitamin is boosted if a small amount of a healthy fat is eaten with the vitamin.

Pink roses
Pink roses | Source

Health Benefits of Vitamins C and A

Vitamin C Benefits

Vitamin C has many important functions in humans. Our bodies can't make vitamin C, unlike the case in most other mammals, so we must obtain it from our diet.

We need vitamin C in order to make collagen. This is a fibrous protein that is present in many structures in the body, including the blood vessels, skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bone and gums. Another important function of vitamin C is to act as an antioxidant. Antioxidants fight free radicals, substances that are thought to contribute to aging and some diseases.

Research indicates that vitamin C may boost the activity of the immune system, help to heal wounds, reduce the risk of osteoarthritis and improve the condition of the skin.

Vitamin A Benefits

Vitamin A supports healthy vision and the activity of the immune system. It's also necessary to produce and maintain healthy skin, teeth, mucus membranes, soft tissue and bones. In the form of beta-carotene in food (but not in supplements), the vitamin may reduce the risk of some types of cancer. Beta-carotene is also an antioxidant.

The California wild rose, or Rosa californica
The California wild rose, or Rosa californica | Source

Other Nutrients in Rose Hips

Rose hips are a good source of manganese and fibre. They also contain a significant amount of vitamins E and K, calcium, magnesium, potassium and lycopene.

Lycopene is a red pigment that is also found in tomatoes. Like beta-carotene, it belongs to the carotenoid family of chemicals. Lycopene may help lower the risk of some types of cancer, but experiments have shown mixed results. Some experiments have shown that lycopene does reduce the chance of developing cancer while others have shown that lycopene has no effect on cancer risk.

The beautiful beach rose (Rosa rugosa) in bloom
The beautiful beach rose (Rosa rugosa) in bloom | Source

Rose Hips as Food

A rose hip consists of a thick outer layer surrounding a cavity containing seeds. A hip should be cut open and the seeds removed before the hip is eaten. The seeds taste bitter and can sometimes irritate the mouth and digestive tract. The hip itself can often taste lovely, however.

The hips of some roses taste better than others. Rosa rugosa reportedly has one of the best tasting fruits. The hips of this species are a rich red color when they're ripe. The plant is native to East Asia, but it has been introduced to other areas and can be bought from plant nurseries.

Culivated roses have edible hips (as long as the roses haven't been treated with pesticides), but the greatest number of hips can be found on wild roses. It's enjoyable to pick hips off a wild rose bush and eat them right away, as long as they aren't too sour. Generally, the riper the hips, the sweeter their taste.

Roses belong to the plant family known as the Rosaceae. Many other edible fruits belong to this family, including apples, pears, apricots, peaches, cherries, plums, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries.

How to Make Rose Hip Jelly

Rose Hip Jelly and Tea

A tea can be made from fresh or dried rose hips. One or two tablespoons of hips placed in hot water for about ten minutes makes a nice infusion. At the end of the brewing time the hips should be removed and a sweetener added (if desired).

Some people prefer to remove the seeds from the hips before they make the tea. The seeds can be strained out if the hips burst, but they do have a bitter taste which may enter the tea.

Rose hip jelly can be made from the liquid in which hips are boiled, as shown in the video above. Some form of pectin will need to be added so that the liquid will gel. Chopped apples can provide the necessary pectin.

The hips of Rosa rugosa, or the beach rose, are a brilliant red colour.
The hips of Rosa rugosa, or the beach rose, are a brilliant red colour. | Source

Collecting Rose Hips

Rose hips are quite easy to recognize, but if you go foraging it's important to be absolutely certain that you are picking rose hips and not another fruit that may be poisonous. It may be helpful to identify wild rose bushes when they have flowers and then wait for the fruits to form on the bushes later in the season. Expert foragers say that rose hips taste best after the first frost.

Rose hips should be collected in an area that is free of pesticides and pollution. In addition, the area shouldn't be stripped of rose hips. Some should be left to provide food for animals and to provide seeds that will grow into new plants.

Nature is a wonderful source of food. It can also be deadly. When foraging for a particular plant or plant part, correct identification is absolutely essential.

Wild Edibles - Rose Hip Tea

Rose Hip Oil in Cosmetics

Rose hip oil (or rosehip oil) for cosmetic purposes is generally obtained from a rose with the scientific name Rosa rubiginosa. In the cosmetics industry the oil is often known as rosa mosqueta oil. Chile is the major producer of rose hip oil.

I eat rose hips, but I don't use rose hip oil. Scientific studies of its effects on the skin are hard to find, but it's a popular product.

The proponents of rose hip oil claim that it has an excellent ability to fade scars (including surgical and acne scars) and is also useful for stretch marks, wrinkles (especially those caused by sun exposure) and areas of excess pigmentation. They say that the oil sinks quickly into the skin and that only a few drops are needed during each treatment.

Cold-pressed rose hip oil is reportedly the most effective type. It's orange in color. It's important to differentiate between rose oil (made from the flower's petals) and rose hip oil (made from the fruit). Unlike rose oil, rose hip oil doesn't smell like roses. The aroma is described as "earthy" or "coffee-like".

Rose hips late in the season
Rose hips late in the season | Source

A Nutritious and Useful Fruit

Some people don't realize that rose hips can be eaten and may not even notice them. If a gardener removes cultivated rose flowers as they start to die, the hips may never develop. People who never take walks in nature may not notice wild rose hips.

Missing out on the advantages of rose hips is a shame. They are highly nutritious fruits. They're also versatile and can be used in a variety of interesting ways. Eating rose hips is not only enjoyable but can also help to maintain or improve our health.

© 2013 Linda Crampton

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Comments 44 comments

purnasrinivas profile image

purnasrinivas 3 years ago from Bangalore

A very informative and interesting hub.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you, purnasrinivas. I appreciate the comment.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Fascinating hub here on rosehips and its uses! Thanks for sharing all of the great information, that I never knew.

Voted up++++ and sharing

Blessings, Faith Reaper


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

Very interesting. I have heard of rose hips being of value nutritionally but have never experimented with them. I may have missed this is your detailed article. Since they lose some of their nutrients in cooking can they bet eaten raw (after removing seeds)? Just wondering. I do think I would like to try the tea. Thanks for sharing...

Angels are on the way ps


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

That was very interesting, Alicia. I had no idea how beneficial the rose was...thank you for this.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Faith Reaper. Thank you very much for the comment, the vote and the share!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, pstraubie48. Yes, rose hips can be eaten raw. In fact, that's how I usually eat them! Thanks for the comment and the angels.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you, Bill. Roses are certainly beneficial! They're beautiful and useful.


CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 3 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

Interesting hub Alicia, packed full of great information. When I was a child my mother used to dose me every day in the winter with something called 'Delrosa' which was a rose hip syrup for kids, to get the vitamin C into us.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Cynthia. It is amazing how much vitamin C is present in rose hips! I have read reports saying that some manufacturers of rose hip medications add extra vitamin C to compensate for the vitamin lost in heating processes. Even if this is so, we're still getting a healthy dose of the vitamin when we take the medication! Thank you very much for the comment.


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 3 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi my friend great informative well written article on rose hips, all this information was very useful and interesting . Well done !

Vote up and more !!! Sharing !


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland

This is not only a very interesting hub but the photos are great! I knew a little about rose hips, but this great article has given me lots of information that I didn't know - espcially about the wine! I will definitely need to try some of this during the hot summer days!!

Great hub + voted up!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you, Tom. I always appreciate your visits! I appreciate the vote and the share, too.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thanks for the comment and the vote, Seeker7. I'm looking forward to the ripening of the rose hips in my area!


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

Had no idea, Alicia, that rose hips were so versatile. Thanks for this new information. Great photos and excellent diagrams, too.


Sue Bailey profile image

Sue Bailey 3 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

What a marvellous and informative hub Alicia. I have never eaten a rose hip although I used to love Delrosa Rosehip Syrup which was given to babies back in the 60's and 70's. My nieces and nephew were reared on it. I don't remember seeing any recently - they probably decided it wasn't good for them any more.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for the visit and the comment, drbj. Yes, rose hips are versatile and useful fruits!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thanks for the comment, Sue. I'll have to investigate Delrosa syrup - it sounds interesting!


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 3 years ago

This was such a fun read, Alicia. I was familiar with rose hip tea but had no idea that people also used rose hips to make stuff like wines and jams. How interesting. I've learned so much from this hub! Thanks.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

There were lots of wild roses in Maine where I grew up, most likely more so than the cultivated roses. My mother spoke about rosehip jelly, but never made it, so I never was able to try it. Perhaps I should look for a recipe and go wild rose hunting.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Om. Thanks for the visit! I appreciate your comment.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Wild rose hunting is a fun activity, Deb! I enjoy collecting rose hips. Thanks for the comment.


bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi Alicia, How interesting? I had no idea the rose was anything other than another pretty flower? You continue to educate me with every hub you write. Thank you. Voted up, shared and pinned.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thanks, Bill. I appreciate your comment, vote and share, as always! I think it's wonderful that roses have so many uses. They are beautiful and helpful.


Robie Benve profile image

Robie Benve 3 years ago from Ohio

I find deeply amazing that such a common fruit is so unknown! I cut my rose hips off all the time so new flowers can develop. I never heard that they are edible before! Thanks for sharing. voted up and awesome.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for the comment and the votes, Robie. I appreciate your visit. It is strange that such a useful fruit is so unknown!


marion langley profile image

marion langley 3 years ago from The Study

Voting up! This hub is fabulous and delicious. Such a versatile family of plants. I just recently discovered some members of the rose family fix nitrogen similarly to legumes so they are of benefit to the plants around them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankia Had to share! Thanks for writing :-)


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Marion. It is very interesting that some members of the rose family contain bacteria that fix nitrogen! The bacteria have only been found in a few members of the family so far, but who knows what researchers will discover in the future! Thank you very much for the comment.


lesliebyars profile image

lesliebyars 3 years ago from Alabama

Didn't know that Rose hips were used for so many different things. Thank you for writing about them. I voted up and awesome.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you for the votes, Leslie. Yes, rose hips are very useful!


Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

This is really interesting. My mother always loves rose hip tea and she said that growing up she and her friends played a game with rose hips. Pick one and open it up and there are these things (I'm guessing seeds) that are extremely itchy and stick to clothing. When she was a child, she and her friends would open them up and put them down the backs of each others shirts. They'd itch for hours.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Glimmer. Yes, the seeds of rose hips can be irritating. I certainly wouldn't like to have them pushed down my back! Thanks for the comment and for sharing the interesting story.


sallybea profile image

sallybea 3 years ago from Norfolk

AliciaC - I have never tried rose hips but have found myself reading quite a bit about these lately. They appear to be really prolific this year and I am really looking forward to tasting them. Thank you for sharing this information.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, sallybea. There's one patch of bushes loaded with rose hips in my area. People don't seem to realize that they're edible! Thanks for the comment.


ologsinquito profile image

ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

Great article. I knew rose hips were good for us, but I never really understood where they came from. I'm pinning this to my healthy living board.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for the comment and the pin, ologsinquito. I appreciate them both!


VVanNess profile image

VVanNess 2 years ago from Prescott Valley

I picked a bag of rose hips over the holidays with our grandparents and was wondering what to do with them. :) These are some great ideas. Thanks!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you, Victoria. It's nice to hear about someone else who collects rose hips. They can be very useful!


klidstone1970 profile image

klidstone1970 2 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

Hi Alicia. I never knew rose hips were so versatile with many different uses. I have both wild and domesticated plants on my property and never thought twice about using the plant for so many things. Thanks for the information. I will never look at them the same again!

Kim


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much, Kim! I don't have roses in my garden, but wild roses grow beside a trail near my home. I always look forward to seeing the lovely flowers followed by the rose hips. The hips from that area taste very nice, which is an added bonus.


Sophia125 2 years ago

I recommend rose oil, as it is the best way to keep skin moisturized. Rose oil is associated with a whole range of topical skin benefits. There are many skincare products that contain rose oil as an active ingredient, but pure oil has its own benefits.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 13 months ago from Dallas, Texas

This was quite informative, AliciaC. My rose bushes have begun to form these pods and I never knew what they were. I had heard of Rose Hip tea but did not know of the nutritional value of the actual fruit. Interesting details and great photos!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 13 months ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thanks for the comment, Sophia125.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 13 months ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Peg. Thank you for the visit and the comment. It's a great time of year for collecting rose hips!

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