Roses have been a symbol of love, beauty & royalty for thousands of years. It's thought that they were first cultivated in Persia & China, and have been found in artwork date back to the 5th century BC in Egyptian tombs.
The word 'rosary' from the Christian traditions derives from the latin 'rosarium': a garland of roses.
The Wild Briar Rose has connotations with love, death, divination & secrecy. In Roman times, a Rose would be hung from the ceiling over the dinner table to indicate that matters discussed must be kept strictly confidential, and the phrase 'sub rosa' (beneath the rose) became common. In fact many confessional booths are still adorned with roses.
In France the Briar Rose is known as the 'Sorcerers Rose', or 'Rose du Diable' (Devils Rose), as apparently the Devil himself planted it in an attempt to form a ladder back to Heaven.
It's Wild Rosehip season! As we experience our first frosts, the Vitamins in the hips are concentrated, making this the best time to gather ripe rosehips. The 'rosehip' is simply the seed that forms on a Rose plant after flowering, you'll find it on any rose in your garden, and all Rose flowers & hips are edible. Just be wary, most ornamental & commercial rose plants are heavily sprayed, so best to stick to plants you know well.
Rosehips are full of vitamins, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, vitamin E, vitamin C and B-carotene, a form of vitamin A. They're a rich source of Vitamin C, containing as much as 2000mg per 100g of fruit (hips) which makes them beneficial to those suffering from colds, flu or recovering from infection. This is the perfect time of year to be sipping our Rosehip tea and getting a good dose of Vitamin C before winter.
During World War II fruit imports weren't making it into the UK. The govt developed a rosehip syrup to supply Vitamin C to the population. Subsequently 1,000 tons of wild rosehips were gathered, and children were given rosehip syrup during the winter throughout the 40's-60's.
The delicious, fruity, mildly astringent taste of rosehips make them a beautiful addition to herbal tea blends. I love to combine finely ground rosehips with wild nettles (also very beneficial during convalescence, nourishing & supporting the whole system) . For medicinal purposes & to extract the most vitamin C content, it’s best to infuse your ground rosehips in hot water overnight. Strain before drinking as the hips are full of tiny little hairs that scratch your throat.
You’ll also find lots of recipes for rosehip jam, jelly & syrup online. My favorite experiment was an Elderflower and Rose infused vinegar, it was just amazing, soft, subtley sweet, a lovely addition to salad dressings, or a dash in water on a hot day.
Rosa Rugosa and Rosa Canina (Dog Rose) are the most cherished varities for their vitamin content & medicinal properties. But you can use all sprayfree hips.
I use wild rosehips in my popular Rosehip Facial oil which is great at moisturizing by penetrating deeper into the skins layers. Rosehip oil is well known for brightening & firming the skin, fading scars & reducing wrinkles by assisting with skins renewal and repair.
I used to travel to Central Otago specifically to wild harvest Wild Rosehips where they thrive in the hot/cold, dry, arid mountain climate. Travel plans have been thwarted the last few years, but luckily my gorgeous friend & fellow herbalist Loran lives on land out of Wanaka and has been keeping me supplied with her hand gathered hips. It’s really important to me that plants are wildharvested mindfully & with intention, and I trust that Loran has all her heart in her practice.
Check out Lorans lovely work & herbal offerings at @herbalculturenz