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  • Writer's pictureThe Wild Foodie

Wild Rose or Dog Rose (Rosa canina)

Updated: Sep 10, 2023

The wild rose, also known as the dog rose, is a species of flowering plant that belongs to the Rosa genus within the Rosaceae family. Its scientific name is Rosa canina. This versatile and attractive plant is native to the UK and Europe, northwest Africa, and western Asia. It has also been widely cultivated and naturalised in various regions around the world.

The wild rose is a deciduous shrub that typically grows up to 2-3 metres (6-10 feet) in height, although it can sometimes reach taller heights under favourable conditions. It has arching branches with sharp thorns, which serve as a protective mechanism against hungry plant eaters.

One of the notable features of the wild rose is its beautiful flowers. They bloom in late spring to early summer, showcasing a variety of colours, including white, pink, and shades of vibrant red. The flowers have a distinctive fragrance that can only be described as sweet and delicate.

Wild Rose or Dog Rose (Rosa canina)
Wild Rose or Dog Rose (Rosa canina)

Following the flowering stage, the wild rose produces small, round or oval-shaped fruits known as rose hips. These hips are rich in vitamin C and are used in various culinary preparations, such as jams, jellies, herbal teas, and syrups. During the second world war, due to the high levels of vitamin C, the public were actively encouraged to pick and eat rose hips, whilst the naval blockades prevented other high vitamin C fruits from reaching our shores.

Beyond its ornamental value, the wild rose holds cultural and historical significance. It has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, with its extracts and infusions believed to have several health benefits. Additionally, the wild rose has appeared in folklore, literature, and art, often symbolising love, beauty, and resilience.

The wild rose, or dog rose, is a captivating flowering shrub with showy blossoms and nutritious fruit. Its adaptability, aesthetic appeal, and cultural associations make it a cherished plant in the UK, but let’s explore more uses for this superb plant.

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Wild Rose or Dog Rose Uses

The wild rose, or dog rose, has several practical uses beyond its ornamental and cultural significance.

Medicinal Uses: The wild rose has a long history of medicinal use. Its fruits, rose hips, are rich in vitamin C and are commonly used to make herbal teas, syrups, and supplements. Rose hip extracts boost the immune system, improve digestion, and provide anti-inflammatory benefits. They are also used in skincare products for their antioxidant properties and ability to promote skin health.

Culinary Uses: Rose hips have culinary applications and are used in various recipes. They can be made into jams, jellies, sauces, and beverages. Rose hip tea is particularly popular and is known for its tart and fruity flavour. It is a rich source of antioxidants and can be enjoyed both for its taste and potential health benefits.

Natural Dye: The petals of the wild rose can be used to create natural dyes. They yield a range of colours, including shades of pink, red, and purple. These dyes can be used to colour fabrics, yarns, and other natural materials.

Wildlife Habitat and Food Source: The wild rose, of course, provides valuable habitat and food for wildlife. The dense thickets of the shrub offers shelter and nesting sites for birds and small animals. The rose hips are a nutritious food source for birds, mammals, and insects, contributing to their survival during the colder months. They also make an excellent snack for the winter forager.

Traditional Crafts: The thorny branches of the wild rose can be used in traditional crafts, such as basket weaving. The flexibility and strength of the branches make them suitable for creating baskets, wreaths, and other woven items.

Wild or Dog Rose Identification

Here are some key features to help you identify the dog rose:

Growth Habit:

The wild rose is a deciduous shrub that typically grows 2-3 metres (6-10 feet) in height, although it can sometimes grow taller under favourable conditions. It has arching branches that often form thickets or dense stands.


Wild or Dog Rose Leaves
Wild or Dog Rose Leaves

The leaves of the wild rose are pinnate, meaning they are composed of several leaflets arranged on either side of a central stem. Each leaf typically has 5-7 leaflets, although this can vary. The leaflets are serrated or toothed along the edges and have a slightly rough texture. The leaf colour is typically medium green.


The stems of the wild rose are covered in sharp, curved thorns or prickles. These thorns are usually found along the stems and branches and serve as a defence mechanism against browsing animals.


The wild rose produces large, showy flowers that bloom in late spring to early summer. The flowers can vary in colour, including white, pink, and shades of vibrant red. They have a characteristic five-petaled structure and a sweet fragrance. The flowers typically have numerous yellow stamens in the centre.

Fruits or Hips:

After the flowering stage, the wild rose produces small, round or oval-shaped fruits called rose hips in late-summer, that persist late into the winter months. These hips start green and ripen to various shades of red or orange. They are typically around 1-2 centimetres in diameter and have a fleshy texture. Inside the hips are small seeds, seeds that are readily used as ‘itching powder’ by children.

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Dog Rose Distribution in the UK

Wild roses are widely distributed throughout the United Kingdom, and several native species can be found across different regions. The distribution of wild roses in the UK is influenced by various factors, including climate, soil conditions, and habitat suitability.

One of the most common wild roses in the UK is the Dog Rose (Rosa canina), which is native to Europe and parts of Asia. It is found throughout the country and thrives in a variety of habitats, including hedgerows, woodlands, scrublands, and along roadsides. The Dog Rose is known for its beautiful pink or white flowers and bright red rosehips.

Other native wild rose species found in the UK include the Field Rose (Rosa arvensis) and the Sweetbriar Rose (Rosa rubiginosa). The Field Rose is commonly found in grasslands, meadows, and open woodlands, while the Sweetbriar Rose prefers hedgerows, open spaces, and drier habitats.

In addition to native species, cultivated varieties and hybrid roses can also be found across the country in gardens, parks, and urban landscapes. These cultivated roses often display a wide range of colours and fragrances, adding to the diversity of the rose population in the UK.

Overall, wild roses are well-distributed across the UK, and their presence adds beauty to the landscape while providing important habitat and food sources for wildlife. The abundance of wild roses in the UK makes them a cherished part of the natural environment and a delightful sight for nature enthusiasts, foragers and gardeners alike.

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Can you Eat Wild Rose?

Both the flowers and fruits of the wild rose, also known as dog rose (Rosa canina), have culinary uses and can be consumed.


The flowers of the wild rose are not commonly consumed as food but are sometimes used for culinary purposes in certain cultures. They have a delicate flavour and fragrance that can be infused into syrups, rose petal jams, or desserts. The petals can also be used to garnish salads, desserts, or beverages, adding a touch of colour and a subtle floral note.

You might also like to make wild rose water, from which you can make your own wild rose turkish delight.

Perfect for hot days, check out our chilled wild rose tea recipe.

Rose Hips (Fruits):

The rose hips, which are the fruits of the wild rose, are the more commonly consumed part of the plant. They are rich in vitamin C and offer a tangy, slightly sweet taste. Rose hips can be eaten fresh, but they are more commonly used in various culinary preparations. They are often made into jams, jellies, sauces, and beverages. Rose hip tea, made by steeping dried or fresh rose hips in hot water, is a popular and nutritious beverage.

Overall, while the flowers of the wild rose are not widely consumed, the rose hips offer a versatile and nutritious culinary ingredient with various applications in cooking and herbal teas.

Rose hips
Rose hips

Wild Rose Hip and Petal Recipes

Rose Petal Lemonade

Ingredients: Fresh wild rose petals, lemon juice, water, sugar/honey (optional)

Instructions: In a large jug, combine fresh wild rose petals with lemon juice. Add water and sweeten with sugar or honey if desired. Stir well until the sugar dissolves. Let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for a few hours to allow the flavours to infuse. Serve over ice for a refreshing and floral lemonade.

Rose Petal and Raspberry Salad

Ingredients: Fresh mixed salad greens, wild rose petals, fresh raspberries, goat cheese, walnuts, balsamic vinaigrette

Instructions: In a large salad bowl, combine fresh mixed salad greens, wild rose petals, fresh raspberries, crumbled goat cheese, and chopped walnuts. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette dressing and toss gently to combine. Serve as a light and elegant salad.

Rosehip Muffins

Ingredients: Rosehip puree, plain flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, milk, vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla extract

Instructions: Preheat the oven to the specified temperature for muffins. In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine rosehip puree, milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract. Gradually add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Spoon the batter into lined muffin tins. Bake according to the specified time for muffins or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool before serving.

Rosehip Chutney

Ingredients: Rosehips, onions, apples, brown sugar, vinegar, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, salt, black pepper

Instructions: In a saucepan, combine chopped rosehips, onions, apples, brown sugar, vinegar, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, salt, and black pepper. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens, and the fruits become soft and caramelised. Adjust the sweetness and seasoning according to taste. Allow the chutney to cool before transferring it to sterilised jars. Serve alongside meats, cheeses, or as a delicious condiment.

These additional recipes provide more options for incorporating the unique flavours and qualities of wild rose petals and rosehips into your culinary creations. Experiment with these recipes and feel free to adjust the ingredients and measurements according to your preferences. Enjoy exploring the delightful world of wild rose-inspired dishes!

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More Wild Rose Recipes

We simply love using rose in our recipes, that's why we write about rose and the delicious recipes that you can create from it so often.. That perfumed scent and flavour of the petals, or the fruity sweetness of the hips is so good. Here's a selection of other dog rose recipes that we have created for you to enjoy.

Medicinal Benefits of Rosehips and Petals

How did the dog rose get its name? Well apparently its because the roots were believed to cure the bite of a rabid dog, true or not, it points to this plants importance as a medicinal plant. Let's explore the nutritional and medicinal benefits of both the hips and the petals.

Rose Hips

High in vitamin C: Rose hips are known for their exceptional vitamin C content, which supports immune health, collagen production, and antioxidant activity.

Anti-inflammatory properties: Rose hips contain compounds that help reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms of inflammatory conditions like arthritis.

Boosts skin health: The antioxidants in rose hips help protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals, promoting a healthy complexion and reducing signs of aging.

Supports digestive health: Rose hips have traditionally been used to aid digestion, relieve constipation, and soothe gastrointestinal discomfort.

May improve joint health: The anti-inflammatory properties of rose hips may help reduce joint pain and stiffness in conditions such as osteoarthritis.

Rose Petals

Calming effects: Rose petals have a calming and soothing effect on the nervous system, making them useful for reducing stress, anxiety, and promoting relaxation.

Skin healing properties: Rose petals contain natural oils and antioxidants that can nourish and hydrate the skin, promote healing of wounds and minor burns, and help alleviate skin irritations.

Anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties: Applying rose petal-infused preparations topically may help reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and soothe skin conditions like eczema and rosacea.

Astringent properties: Rose petals have mild astringent properties that can help tighten and tone the skin, reducing the appearance of pores and promoting a more youthful complexion.

Mood-enhancing benefits: The pleasant scent of rose petals has been found to have mood-enhancing effects, helping to uplift spirits and improve overall well-being.

Summing up

Wild roses or dog roses are a beautiful and versatile plant that holds a special place in nature and human culture. With their captivating beauty, delicate fragrance, and abundance of benefits, wild roses have captured our admiration throughout history. Whether it's their vibrant blooms, nutritious rosehips, or aromatic petals, wild roses offer a range of practical uses, from culinary delights to natural remedies and skincare products. Their presence in the wild brings joy to our surroundings and provides habitat for various wildlife. So let us cherish and appreciate the enchanting allure of wild roses, preserving their existence for generations to come, and finding inspiration in their resilience and timeless elegance.

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