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What are Rose Hips?

Rave Uno Sep 1, 2020
Did you know that the rose plant also bears fruit, along with its famous red bloom? The rose hip is the faded rose bloom that, if left on the plant, will form a small but nutritionally beneficial fruit.
The rosebush is famously known for its beautiful, luscious red, white, pink and yellow flowers and their protective prickly thorns. While the rose is a very popular flower, the rose plant is considered useful as long as it produces fresh, colorful flowers.
The minute the bloom starts to fade or wilt on the plant, it is snipped off to encourage new blooms to grow. However the rosebush belongs to the genus Rosa within the family Rosaceae.
This plant family has a number of flowering and fruit-bearing members, notable specimens like plums, apricots, peaches and apples, to name a few. So does the rosebush bear fruit? Yes, it does and they are called rose hips.
What are rose hips? This is the fruit formed from the faded rose blossom on the plant. The spent blossoms slowly combine internally to form these tiny, red bulbs or pods on the stem of the rose plant.
The fruit will appear on the plant in late spring and will ripen between late summer through autumn. Rose hips appear as berry-sized balls or bulbs, with a firm and glossy skin that is reddish-orange in color.
Some rose species form dark purple or black rose hips. Most rosebush form this fruit but domestic rose cultivars rarely form rose hips. The size of the fruit varies according to the rose plant species but one species, the Rosa Rugosa or the Rugosa Rose, has 2-3 cm wide rose hips, which resemble tomatoes, and are roughly the size of a quarter.

Are Rose Hips Edible?

All varieties of roses yield edible and safe fruits but taste varies depending on rose species. The rose hip is said to have a tart, sweet and sour flavor, likened to that of cranberries. The flesh should be firm but soft with a firm skin.
Some rose species however, can yield rose hips with a metallic, bitter taste. Sometimes the hips are very soft or wrinkly and lack a firm flesh, making them unpleasant to bite into.
Some rose species are noted for their flavorful fruit, such as the Rosa Canina and the Rosa Rugasa. The fruit's flesh also contains seeds, which are covered with fine white hair. These hair, if ingested, can be very irritating to the throat and the stomach. Hence you should remove the seeds from the fruit, prior to eating them raw or cooking them in a recipe.

Are Rose Hips Good for You?

Rose hips are much more than little red bulbs, you'd be surprised at their nutritional content. For such a small-sized fruit, they contain an amazing amount of vitamin C or ascorbic acid. In fact, the rose hip is regarded as one of the richest vitamin C sources amongst fruits, especially with respect to size.
A hundred gram portion of rose hips, eaten raw, contains 426 mg of vitamin C.
Other members of the vitamin family such as, vitamin A and B, are present in trace amounts. Rose hips contain significant amounts of iron and calcium. Due to their coloring, they also contain phytochemicals and antioxidants like lycopene in large amounts, which have a positive effect on cholesterol levels in the body and protect against heart disease and cancer.

Uses of Rose Hips

As a medicine

Their nutritional value and benefits make the rose hip, a very natural medicine for certain ailments. Rose hip syrup is recommended for those suffering from vitamin C deficiency and for children.
Rose hips can even be brewed into an herbal tea, useful for easing common cold and flu. Rose hip tea even aids in digestive and urinary tract disorders, by acting as a mild diuretic and laxative.

As a cooking ingredient

Like any fruit, rose hips can be used in recipes as a culinary ingredient. You can make rose hip jam, marmalade or rose hip jelly. Rose hips can be used to make a tart, thick syrup or used for pies as a filling. It can be baked into a fruity bread, similar to banana bread. Rose hips can even be used to make wine and soup.
Rose hips are available in the dried or powdered form commercially. If you have a rosebush in your garden, then let some rose blooms form the hips and harvest them after the first frost. Cut shriveled rose hips off the bush.
With fresh, full rose hips, you need to trim off the blossom ends and stem. Make sure you remove the seeds before using the hips. To preserve the nutrients and color of this fruit, it is advised not to use aluminum cooking utensils.