Rose Hips: Nutrients, Uses, and Interesting Facts - RemedyGrove - Holistic Wellness
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Rose Hips: Nutrients, Uses, and Interesting Facts

Linda Crampton is a writer and teacher with an honors degree in biology. She loves to study nature and write about living things.

A ripening hip of a Nootka rose, which is a wild plant native to North America

A ripening hip of a Nootka rose, which is a wild plant native to North America

A Beautiful and Useful Plant

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. After fertilization, the fower produces a bulbous structure that is often referred to as the fruit of the rose, or a rose hip. The hip is useful as well as attractive. It's nutritious and has a pleasant taste. 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.

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

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

A Nootka rose in bloom

A Nootka rose in bloom

Parts of a Flower

The ovary becomes the fruit after pollination and fertilization. The ovules become the seeds.

The ovary becomes the fruit after pollination and fertilization. The ovules become the seeds.

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 a pistil.

Pollination and Fertilization

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 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. The overall process is known as double fertilization.

Both wild and cultivated roses produce rose hips.

Both wild and cultivated roses produce rose hips.

Fruits and Seeds

Fruit and Seed Adaptations

The ovule of a fertilized flower develops a tough 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.

The Hypanthium and Achenes

Though this article uses the common terms of fruit (the hip) and seeds (found inside the fruit) with respect to roses, the terms aren't completely correct. The hip of a rose is really a structure called a hypanthium. It's produced from the floral cup that surrounds the multiple ovaries of the flower. The small and dry "seeds" inside the hypanthium are actually a type of dry fruit known as an achene. Each achene contains one seed. The terms "hypanthium" and "achenes" aren't used in everyday descriptions of the plant. I think the structure of rose flowers and fruits is interesting. though.

A ripening Nootka rose hip

A ripening Nootka rose hip

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.

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. A single fruit has only a small quantity of nutrients, but a handful or bowl of hips would be very valuable nutritionally.

Rose hips are rich in vitamin C when they're fresh. Unfortunately, the vitamin is a delicate nutrient and is destroyed by heat. While cooking rose hips can create tasty products, it also reduces their nutritional value. Heat used to dry the fruits can also destroy vitamin C. Another problem is that the vitamin is water soluble and leaches into the water used to cook the fruits. 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. Since the vitamin is fat soluble, its absorption is boosted if a small amount of a healthy fat is eaten at the same time as the nutrient.

Pink roses

Pink roses

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 in order to produce and maintain healthy skin, teeth, mucous 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. Like vitamin C, beta-carotene is an antioxidant.

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 to lower the risk of some types of cancer, especially prostate 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 it has no effect on cancer risk.

The beautiful beach rose (Rosa rugosa) in bloom

The beautiful beach rose (Rosa rugosa) in bloom

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 fruit is eaten. The seeds taste bitter and can sometimes irritate the mouth and digestive tract. The fruit 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 colour 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.

Cultivated roses have edible hips (as long as the roses haven't been treated with pesticides), but the greatest number of fruits can be found on wild roses. It's enjoyable to pick the fruits of 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.

A Tea and a Jelly

A tea can be made from fresh or dried rose hips. One or two tablespoons of the fruits 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.

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 the 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 fruits. Some should be left to provide food for animals and to provide seeds that will grow into new plants.

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

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 substance is often known as rosa mosqueta oil. Chile is the major producer of the oil.

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

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 fruits may never develop. People who never take walks in nature may not notice wild rose fruits.

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 them is not only enjoyable but may also help to maintain or improve our health.

References

  • Pollination and double fertilization in flowering plants from Estrella Mountain Community College
  • Morphological features of the rose family from Encyclopedia Britannica
  • Nutrients in wild rose hips from SELFNutritionData (whose data is provided by the USDA, or United States Department of Agriculture)
  • Rose hip information from WebMD
  • Vitamin C health benefits from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University
  • Vitamin A health benefits from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • The potential benefit of lycopene in prostate cancer from the NIH

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

Question: Do you recommend frozen rose hips for vitamin C if fresh ones are not available?

Answer: Nutrition experts say that freezing food preserves nutrients, including vitamin C. The short blanching period that occurs before the rapid freezing involved in the creation of many frozen foods destroys a small quantity of the nutrients. The food is still nutritious, though. If the unfrozen food contained a significant amount of vitamin C, the frozen version will, too. Regular cooking methods destroy a lot of vitamin C, however.

I’ve never read anything specifically about the nutrient level in frozen rose hips, but as in other food, their nutrients should be preserved during freezing.

© 2013 Linda Crampton

Comments

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 10, 2019:

Thanks for the comment and for sharing the interesting information, Ellen.

Ellen Gregory from Connecticut, USA on August 10, 2019:

My grandmother who lived to 98 years old, swore by rose hips tea for colds. She came here from Germany in the early 1900s and they used it there all the time. Our Scandinavian import store has rose hips products. I purchased a product that is intended to make rose hip syrup to put on ice cream and top desserts.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on October 05, 2018:

Thank you, Sneha. I hope you enjoy the rose hips if you try them.

Sneha Sunny from India on October 05, 2018:

I didn't know that they are so beneficial. I've never used rosehips ever in my life. I must give them a try. This was new information for me. Loved learning here! Thanks for sharing.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 26, 2017:

Hi, Besarien. Thank you very much for the comment. Your grandmother reached a good age. I hope I live as long as she did!

Besarien from South Florida on August 26, 2017:

Wonderful hub! My grandmother and I always had tea parties. She loved rose hip tea. I can smell and taste it any time I think about her. It must be good for you because she made it well into her nineties then went to sleep one night and never woke up. To me that is a perfect end.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 03, 2015:

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

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 03, 2015:

Thanks for the comment, Sophia125.

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on November 03, 2015:

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!

Sophia125 on August 20, 2014:

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.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on March 14, 2014:

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.

இڿڰۣ-- кιмвєяℓєу from Niagara Region, Canada on March 14, 2014:

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

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on February 15, 2014:

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

Victoria Van Ness from Fountain, CO on February 15, 2014:

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!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 23, 2014:

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

ologsinquito from USA on January 23, 2014:

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.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 03, 2013:

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.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on November 03, 2013:

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.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 22, 2013:

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.

Claudia Mitchell on July 22, 2013:

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.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 20, 2013:

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

lesliebyars on July 20, 2013:

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

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 17, 2013:

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.

marion langley from The Study on July 17, 2013:

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 :-)

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 10, 2013:

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!

Robie Benve from Ohio on July 10, 2013:

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.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 09, 2013:

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.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on July 09, 2013:

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.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 09, 2013:

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

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 09, 2013:

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

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on July 09, 2013:

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.

Om Paramapoonya on July 09, 2013:

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.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 08, 2013:

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

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 08, 2013:

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

Susan Bailey from South Yorkshire, UK on July 08, 2013:

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.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on July 08, 2013:

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

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 08, 2013:

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

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 08, 2013:

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

Helen Murphy Howell from Fife, Scotland on July 08, 2013:

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!

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on July 08, 2013:

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 !

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 08, 2013:

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.

CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on July 08, 2013:

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.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 08, 2013:

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

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 08, 2013:

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.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 08, 2013:

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

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 08, 2013:

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

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on July 08, 2013:

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

Faith Reaper from southern USA on July 08, 2013:

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

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 08, 2013:

Thank you, purnasrinivas. I appreciate the comment.

purnasrinivas from Bangalore on July 08, 2013:

A very informative and interesting hub.