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Wild Relatives of the Rose

Updated on August 6, 2015

Cultivated rose

One of the many cultivated rose varieties. Photograph by D.A.L.
One of the many cultivated rose varieties. Photograph by D.A.L.

Wild rose

wild roses are capable of impressing the rose lover. Photograph by D.A.L.
wild roses are capable of impressing the rose lover. Photograph by D.A.L.
This species is growing out of an old stone wall and still managing to flourish. Photograph by D.A.L.
This species is growing out of an old stone wall and still managing to flourish. Photograph by D.A.L.

Notes from a Lancashire Countryman

The family Rosaceae is as diverse a family as one could wish for and we are all familiar with the beautiful garden varieties but they have many close relatives as we shall see. The family produces much of the fruit that we eat such as apples, pairs, plums, cherries, strawberries,blackberries,raspberries and sloes.

The family has provided the ingredients for a plethora of herbal preparations for all manner ofafflictions. Many of our native trees also belong to this family such as the hawthorn {see myhub HAWTHORN AND MAN} The Rowan tree { ROWAN A CHARMING NAME AND A CHARMING TREE} and Whitebeam.

The ground flora is also well represented and are just as diverse .Wood Aven is one such species already dealt with in my hub-A GOLD STAR HERB WITH AN AROMATIC ROOT. However, I will start with a species that enhances any locality in which it appears, the Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria . It is most attractive when they bloom in masses along a ricer bank or ditch side where the white frothy flowers stand out like a jewel in the crown.

The fragrant flowers each with numerous stamens open from spherical buds t the top of branched stems which often stand aloft over other herbage. The leaves are made up of leaflets which in common with their smaller relatives the silver weed and wood aven have smaller leaflets in between larger ones. The leaf as a whole are superficially similar to those of the elm tree hence the genus name of ulmaria.

This species is one of a numerous members of this family that have been utilised in medicine as a diuretic and to treat fever, flu and rheumatism. Meadowsweet tea made by infusing the herb with boiling water for 10 minutes is drunk in the recommended dose of 2 cups daily. The dried herb is infused at 2 teaspoonfuls in 250ml of water. The aerial parts of the plant were once strewn on the floors of houses, because of their pleasant smell. Similarly they were placed in the linen drawers to keep it smelling fresh.

Meadowsweet

The frothy flowers of meadowsweet enhance many habitats.Photograph courtesy of Sten Porse
The frothy flowers of meadowsweet enhance many habitats.Photograph courtesy of Sten Porse

Silverweed

The silverweed is another member of the family that has leaves composed of leaflets, smaller ones in between the larger ones. This is an hairy perennial growing up to 15cm tall with long creeping stems. The foliage is a silvery colour beneath , hence the common name of this plant. The buttercup like flowers are borne singly on long stems and like the buttercup they have five yellow petals. The flowers are 2-3cm wide. The sepals are only half as long as the petals.

Foliage and flowers

The silvery foliage of silver weed.Photograph by D.A.L.
The silvery foliage of silver weed.Photograph by D.A.L.
The flowers are yellow and attractive.  Photograph by D.A.L.
The flowers are yellow and attractive. Photograph by D.A.L.

Medicinal uses

This plant was used to treat diarrhoea and gall bladder problems. The flowers was said to reduce bleeding and inflammations and are antiseptic. They were infused to use as a gargle for sore throats and as wash for sunburn. The roots which are starchy was once eaten in times of famine , but personally I find they have little taste. The foliage was used as a stuffing for geese hence the species name of ansernia, from anser -a goose.

The tormentil Potentilla erecta also produces yellow flowers but they are smaller than the previous species, about 1cm wide and they only possess four petals { unusual for the rose family}. Tormentil is another hairy perennial which may attain the height of 30cm{1 foot}. The root stock is knobbly and of a dark colour on its outer surface but within it changes to a blood red colour.

Components of Tormentil

components of tormentil.
components of tormentil.

The leaves

The leaves of this species appear to be composed of five leaflets when in actual fact there are three and two leaf-like stipules. The leaflets are toothed from the middle to the tip. The cheerful tormentil may be encountered on heath land, bog land and in meadows. They flower from May to October.

As its common name suggests tormentil was used to treat the torments of the stomach and intestines. Externally it was used for a gargle for mouth and throat infections. It has also been used to treat wounds and even frostbite.

Lady's mantle

Next we look at the Lady;s Mantle which is often grown in gardens, especially so in cottage gardens. There are many species of lady's mantle, however, the common species Alchemilla vulgaris represents an aggregate of several species, which all exhibit the silky, lobed grey-green leaves which are covered in downy hair to dispel water. The yellow -green flowers are borne in rounded or domed clusters , and each tiny flower has four sepals but no petals.

Flowers and Foliage

The lady's mantle has always been a cottage garden favourt. Photograph by D.A.L.
The lady's mantle has always been a cottage garden favourt. Photograph by D.A.L.

Medicinal uses l

The foliage of lady's mantle are palmately lobed and have scalloped toothed margins. They are mainly basal but clasping stem leaves do occur. In the wild they are found in a variety of habitats which include well drained rocky places, meadows, woodland margins, and stream sides at low and high altitudes. They are often encountered in unexpected places as garden escapes.

They are one of the oldest wound herbs. A decoction of the leaves was used to treat sore eyes, sore skin and to staunch bleeding. An infuson of the leaves was said to regulate heavy periods and they have long been utilised to treat women's ailments.

A bonus is that the young leaves may be eaten in salads. I have used the leaves many times in conjunction with the flowers and leaves of nasturtium and the petals of Calendula to add flavour and colour to boring green salads.

I think most people will be familiar with the high vitamin C content of rose hips as in rose hip syrup and they can be fermented to make a fine wine. Rose water made from rose petals is a very useful aid for shin complexion.

All in all this diverse family of plants is beneficial to man for both his food and his medicine. it is a family of plants that merit our attention and our admiration.

Rosa regusa Top. Below Raspberry

Rosa regusa makes a fine hedge and produces large hips ideal for making culinary preparations.
Rosa regusa makes a fine hedge and produces large hips ideal for making culinary preparations.
Raspberries another plant of the rose family that provide us with food.Photograph courtesy of Juhanson
Raspberries another plant of the rose family that provide us with food.Photograph courtesy of Juhanson

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    • D.A.L. profile image
      Author

      Dave 7 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      magnoliazz, thank you for your kind comments. I often wonder how many could survive off the land if there was a sudden food shortage, or medication had to be found from the countryside.

    • magnoliazz profile image

      magnoliazz 7 years ago from Wisconsin

      This is a wonderful hub! I live near Wild Rose, WI and we have beautiful wild roses growing all over. We also have wild raspberries growing all over.

      Its nice to see that there are still people left in the world who know the medicinal uses of plants. Someday we may need that knowledge again.

    • D.A.L. profile image
      Author

      Dave 7 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      She-rah, thank you for your visit nd tor leaving your kind and appreciated comments.

    • She-rah profile image

      She-rah 7 years ago from Springfield, IL

      Wonderful and informative hub! I never did know that such a variety of fruit are in the rose family. Beautiful photos as well, Nature is truly amazing!!!

    • D.A.L. profile image
      Author

      Dave 7 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      wilbury steve thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to leave your appreciated comment.

      Rose, your welcome. glad you found it interesting. Thank you for your kind comment.

      Darski,once again I must thank you for your encouraging comment my friend. Best wishes to you and yours.

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Raspberry from a rose! The abundance of nature; in my view much more varied then here in the US, at least that grow wild in the foliage. The beauty and gift of a Rose, from beauty to food, who would of guessed. Beautiful and awesome your fan and friend, always darski

    • Rose Kolowinski profile image

      Rose Kolowinski 8 years ago

      You know I couldn't resist an article about Rose's! : )

      This is filled with great information and pictures. Thank you for a very fascinating article!

    • wilbury steve profile image

      Steve Webb 8 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      Amazing! so many benefits to be had. Really interesting & informative. Thanks a lot!!

    • D.A.L. profile image
      Author

      Dave 8 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      equealla, thanks for your visit and for leaving your kind and appreciated comments.

    • equealla profile image

      equealla 8 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      I never knew raspberries was family of roses. This is a very informative article, you have amazing clear and beautiful photographs.

      The remedies listed are useful information. Thank you for a very nice hub.

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