Rosa canina is an arching shrub or scrambling climber, with mid-green foliage and pale pink or white fragrant flowers 5cm (2in) across, in small clusters, in early summer, followed by ovoid red fruits.
The wild rose bursts with lightly scented, usually flesh pink flowers (though they can be pinker or whitish) in summer. They are followed by a terrific show of bright red hips, any left hanging on eventually get taken by the birds.
The stems are prickly, which is one very good reason why it's invariably grown in an informal mixed hedge, helping to keep out neighbour's pets and intruders. This species rose used to be grown by commercial breeders to provide the rootstock of ornamental roses.
Rosa canina hips can be used to make jam, jelly, syrup, marmalade and wine. Homemade rose-hip syrup is delicious and well worth making. It is an excellent natural source of vitamin C. It also contains vitamins A, D and E, and antioxidants.
Sowing: Late winter/late spring and late summer/autumn.
Pour warm water over seeds, let them soak for 24 hours until swelling is noticeable.
Seeds can be left to go through the seasons naturally or germination hastened by “Stratifying” (imitating the seasons)
The “Natural” method:
Sow 6mm deep in pots or trays of John Innes seed compost, cover the surface with fine grit and stand in water until compost is completely moistened. Label the containers. Place the containers outside in a cold frame or plunge them up to the rims in a shady part of the garden border.
Some of the seeds may germinate during the spring and summer and these should be transplanted when large enough to handle.
“Hastening Germination” by stratification:
Soak the seeds as above. Take a piece of moistened kitchen towel and fold it into four, place the seeds inside and place the whole lot into a small ziplock bag. Place this inside the fridge. Fridge’s are usually set at 4°C (39°F), this is a perfect temperature to simulate “winter” Check the bag occasionally; plant out any seeds that may have germinated. Leave for 12 week, then to simulate “spring” simply bring the bag out of the fridge, place in an area that is around 10°C (50°F)
Rose seeds sometimes need to go through two winters – so don’t throw away the tray too soon, simply place it in a shady part of the garden, check it occasionally - I have had many “surprise successes” this way, with seed that I have given up on!
When seedlings have their first pair of true leaves and are large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots. Pot on seedlings as required and grow on indoors before planting outside permanently.
Pruning: Late autumn to early spring
Maintenance: In the first two years, cut out only dead, diseased or damaged wood.
Renewal: Cut back one or two of the oldest stems to 30 to 45cm (12 to 18in) above ground and repeat every one to three years. This rose blooms on old wood so take care when pruning.
Wildflower, Hedges, Wildlife, Culinary Purposes. Suitable for planting in a woodland. Tolerant of shade and of poor soils.
Rosa canina has long been grown or encouraged in the wild for the production of vitamin C, from its fruit (often as rose-hip syrup), especially during conditions of scarcity or wartime.
The hips are commonly used as a herbal tea, often blended with hibiscus and as an oil. Homemade rosehip syrup is delicious and well worth making. It is a good natural source of vitamin C. It also contains vitamins A, D and E, and antioxidants. The hips can also be used to make jam, jelly, syrup, marmalade and wine.
Rose hip soup, “nyponsoppa,” is especially popular in Sweden. Rhodomel, a type of mead, is made with rose hips. The hips are used as a flavouring in the Slovenian soft drink Cockta.
Most recipes advise removing the irritating hairy seeds before processing the fruit. When cooking with rose hips. Do not use any metal pans or utensils other than stainless steel or risk discoloration of the fruit and loss of its precious vitamin C stores.
Rosa canina is native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia. Forms of the plant are sometimes used as stocks for the grafting or budding of cultivated varieties. The wild plant is planted as a nurse or cover crop, or stabilising plant in land reclamation and specialised landscaping schemes.
The species has also been introduced to other temperate latitudes. During World War II in the United States Rosa canina was introduced and planted in victory gardens throughout the United States. It can still be found growing, including roadsides, and in wet, sandy areas up and down coastlines. During the Vietnam War, Rosa Canina was dried and then smoked with tobacco.
Numerous cultivars have been named, though few are common in cultivation. The cultivar Rosa canina 'Assisiensis' is the only dog rose without thorns.
The dog rose was the stylised rose of Medieval European heraldry, and is still used today. Rosa canina is the flower of Hampshire
- Additional Information
Packet Size 2 grams Average Seed Count 85 Seeds Family Rosaceae Genus Rosa Species canina Cultivar Wildflower of Britain and Ireland Common Name Shrub Rose, Dog Rose
Wildflower of Britain and Ireland
Other Language Names IR. Feirdhris Hardiness Shrub Flowers White to Pink in summer Fruit Red rose-hips in autumn Foliage Mid Green Height 4m (13ft) Spread 4m (13ft) Position Prefers Full Sun Aspect All aspects, exposed or sheltered Time to Sow Late winter/late spring or late summer/autumn.