Rose hips (or haw) are an important but often overlooked part of the plant. Everyone admires a full bloom, and when it's spent we usually dead-head it (pinch off the dried flower). Unfortunately, while that does mean we will get more and better flowers over the summer, we miss out on the wonderful autumn/winter display of red hips.
The hip (also known as a haw) is the part of the flower left when the petals dies and falls away. They are small, ranging in size from a pea to a small crapapple.
The rose hips are the actual fruits of the bush, and are produced by nearly all varieties. They are edible with nearly all types as well, but the Rugosa and wild breeds have the most delicious taste. They have a slight sour and tangy flavor that some people say is like cranberries. For the best flavor, pick them after the initial frost of the fall, which will help ripen them and add more sweetness. You simply trim the stem ends and the blossom portion. Then slice the hips in two equal parts, take out the seeds, and wash thoroughly.
Why not have a go with growing your own roses from seed? There isn't the instant gratification of buying a plant at the local rose nursery and planting it the same day. But there IS something immensely satisfying to see your first rose beginning to bloom, and knowing that this might be unlike any rose seen before.
You can also eat them in many ways... used in sauces, jams, and syrups. Most varieties are high in Vitamin C. In fact, by weight, they have more than citrus fruits. People in Great Britain used rose hips during World War II to supplement their vitamin intake. Check out this old recipe for rosehip syrup.
They can also be crushed and used as an herbal tea. This can be done by boiling the fruits, dried or crushed, for about 10 minutes. For every pint of water add 2 tablespoons of crushed berries. You can use honey, mint, or hibscus.
Some medicinal studies show that eating them may help with arthritis and joint stiffness, although this is not proven. They have also been known as a natural laxative and a diuretic as well. No known side effects!
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