Roses are a distant cousin to the apple tree, so it should come as no surprise that roses also produce fruit. This fruit, known as rose hips, is rich in vitamin C. During World War II, the British government encouraged its citizens to harvest rose hips and make them into syrup, jam and jelly in order to get more vitamin C into their diet. Although rose hips can be eaten raw, like an apple, the numerous seeds may be embedded into hairs that will irritate the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Rose hips can be processed into a more easily consumable form by boiling them into syrup. All rose hips are edible, but some taste better than others. Consult a doctor before consuming rose hips, especially if you are pregnant.
Rose Canina is known as the dog rose because of the plant's use in treating dog bites in the 18th century. This variety is one of the few species of roses that do not have thorns. It was planted widely in victory gardens in the United States in World War II. This is due in part to the nutritional value of the rose hips that the plant produces. The rose hips of Rose Canina are known to be high in vitamin C and antioxidants.
Rosa Rugosa Rubra
The hips of the rosa rugosa rubra have been alternately called "sea tomatoes" due to their use as a standard fruit in coastal climates. The fruit of the rosa rugosa is red and sweet. It can be eaten as soon as it ripens to a bright red. The fruit is soft and edible right off the plant, although the numerous seeds that the fruit contains make it difficult to eat without preparing first. The seeds are high in vitamin E. In regions where the fruit was common, the seeds were sieved from the fruit, ground and added to baking flour.
The hansa is another hybrid of the rugosa rose family. Like most rugosa roses, hansa produces a heavy crop of meaty rose hips that can grow to the size of a cherry tomato. The fruit of these hips can be dried and used in mint tea. Rose hip and mint tea is slightly acidic and tangy with a hibiscus-like scent. The tea can be sweetened with honey.