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Wild Roses: Rosa Canina

Wild roses such as Rosa Canina (the dog rose) are perhaps a little plain to look at, compared to their modern cousins. Generally smaller single flowers in various shades of pink, they have one outstanding feature. The attractive red hips produced in the fall.

I think that the name dog rose comes from an old belief that the rose hips offered some protection against the bite of mad dogs. I can't find anything to support this, but it seems reasonable considering the high levels of vitamin C and anti-oxidents in the hips.

The flowers are very similar to the rugosa variety, and it is sometimes used as a rootstock for grafting.

Identify The dog Rose

rugosa rose

The dog rose is nearly always some shade of pale pink, with 5 petals. Small backward facing thorns help it to climb through hedgerows. Hips are described as "flask shaped". So oval, higher than they are wide. The hips are more red, although you can find various shades of almost orange colored ones.

Uses Of The Dog Rose

The hips are incredibly rich in vitamin C. These days, it's so easy to go to the local supermarket and get whatever you need, but in times past the rose hips were made full use of. Rose hip syrup, and jelly were used to substitute the lack of fresh fruit in WW2.

I have found an old recipe for Rosehip syrup, as provided by the then Ministy of Food (UK)

Rosehip Syrup Recipe

Have ready 3 pints (1.7.litres) of boiling water, mince 2 lbs (900 grams) of hips in a coarse mincer, drop immediately into the boiling water or if possible mince the hips directly into the boiling water and again bring to the boil. Stop heating and place aside for 15 minutes. Pour into a flannel or linen crash jelly bag and allow to drip until the bulk of the liquid has come through.

Return the residue to the saucepan, add 1.5 pints (850 ml) of boiling water, stir and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Pour back into the jelly bag and allow to drip. To make sure all the sharp hairs are removed put back the first half cup full of liquid and allow to drip through again. Put the mixed juice into a clean saucepan and boil down until the juice measures about 1.5 pints (850 ml), then add 1.5 lbs (560 grams) of sugar and boil for a further 5 minutes.

Pour into hot sterile bottles and seal at once. If corks are used these should have been boiled for 15 minutes just previously and after insertion coated with melted paraffin wax. It is advisable to use small bottles as the syrup will not kept for more than a week or two once the bottle is opened. Store in a dark cupboard.

pink dog rose

Roses By Type

Wild roses, Hybrids, climbers, miniatures and more. Make some sense of the multitude of rose varieties with our handy guides.

Wild Roses
Wild or species roses. They have a natural simple beauty, with their plain 5 petal flowers and vibrant red hips.
Old Fashioned
This includes varieties such as Alba, Damask, Gallica, Hybrid Perpetual, Bourbons, Moss, and many more.
Hybrid Tea
Probably the most popular type in use today. Orignally created by crossing Hybrid Perpetuals and Tea roses.
Climbing Roses
The climbers are not a variety, they can come from different families such as HT's, Floribundas, Antiques etc.
Rambling Roses
Similar habit to the climbers, but with a few subtle (and important to remember) differences between them.
Floribunda
Well known for their prolific sprays of flowers, the floribundas are a very popular garden choice.
Ground Covers
This encompasses varieties such as the Knockout, Drift, and Star roses. Generally very easy care.
Miniatures
A great way to bring your roses indoors or onto the patio. And with a low price, you can have as many as you want!
English Roses
One of the best loved varieties, David Austin's English roses are a must have for your garden.
Shrub Roses
This class is a "catch all" for roses that just don't fit other catagories. A bit of a cop out really!
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