Rosa rugosa (2)

Rosa rugosa (1)
Rosa rugosa fruits (rose hips)

Rugosa Rose or Beach Rose, Rosa rugosa

Family: Rosaceae, the Rose Family

Description: Non-native shrub 1-2m tall. Flowers pink or sometimes white with hairy pedicels; compound, dark green leaves deeply veined with 5-9 leathery, shiny (rugose) leaflets; stems with sharp prickles; fruit a fleshy orange-red hip

Abundance: Occasional on Mt. Desert Island

Habitat: Beaches, coastal thickets, planted ornamentally

Plant Parts Used: Petals, hips, buds

Food: Vinegar, tea, jams, sauces

Medicine: Vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-hemorrhagic, cooling, relaxes nervous system, astringent

After I spoke with Terry-Anya, she wrote me an email realizing that we had forgotten to talk about this marvelous plant. She wanted to make sure I included beach rose in this project:

“I tincture the buds, make a delicious rose vinegar by steeping the petals in apple cider vinegar, make jam from the petals, use them in herb blends, make a glycerine extraction from the petals that is delicious beyond belief and comforting to the heart. The rose hips are time-consuming to clean but less so than other roses because of their generous size, and once the cleaning is done, they lend themselves beautifully fresh or dried to butters, jams, tea (blended or straight), and make a great addition to apple or cranberry sauce. A strong tea of the leaves and branch tips can be quick-acting and lifesaving when someone is hemorrhaging.”

Euell Gibbons writes that one cup of pared rose hips “may contain as much Vitamin C as 10 to 12 dozen oranges.” In the  Canadian Medical Association Journal, Hunter and Tuba write that one gram of dried rose hip flesh powder would nearly meet an adult’s daily vitamin C requirement. In Arthur’s lecture, he told us that these rose hips have 38 times the amount of vitamin C as the best oranges. They are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory. He also said that the achenes that are painstakingly removed when making rose hip jam, for example, are actually high in omega-3 fatty acids, so keeping some in a jam can be beneficial. The hips are also a popular addition to many commercially available herbal teas. Deb especially likes combining rose hips with ginger and honey to make a healthful, delicious tea. John said that during World War II, rose hips were sent to children in England who were suffering from the lack of vitamin C.

Deb said that the petals are astringent, cooling, moistening, and a bit sweet. These qualities make it a helpful and delicious tea for treating PMS, menopause-related stress, or any other stress. Rose petals relax the nervous system. The petals are also helpful for people in love or for people with broken hearts. They can be made into syrups, jams, glycerin-based elixirs, or into a wash.  This wash, much like the rosewater sold in stores, is helpful when applied to red, irritated, and inflamed skin. The astringent properties of the petals make a helpful tea, especially if combined with yarrow and raspberry leaf, for dealing with heavy menstrual bleeding. She also makes a tasty tea of the dried rose hips with fresh ginger rhizome.

My favorite way of preparing rose hips is by making a delicious jam, which is not cooked so I can retain the maximum amount of vitamin C. I use Euell Gibbons’ recipe from Stalking the Healthful Herb:

Raw Rose Hip Jam:

Blend these three ingredients in a blender until smooth:

1 cup of prepared hips (achenes removed)
¾ cup water
Juice of 1 lemon

Gradually add 3 cups of sugar to the running blender
Blend for an additional 5 minutes until sugar is completely dissolved

Stir 1 package of powdered pectin into ¾ cup water
Bring the pectin-water mixture to a boil
Boil hard for 1 minute
Pour this mixture into the blender
Blend for 1 minute

Pour jam into small, clean glass jars and store in refrigerator or, if stored for over a month, store in a freezer.

Note: This post is part of my Plants and People series. See my Plants and People page for more information about the project and the people referenced in this post.


  • Brooks, John. Personal Interview. 28 Nov. 2010.
  • Gibbons, Euell. Stalking the Healthful Herbs. Chambersberg, PA: A.C. Hood & Co., 1966. Print.
  • Haines, Arthur. “Preserving Native Plant Knowledge.” Somes-Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary, Mt. Desert, Maine. 9 Oct. 2010. Lecture.
  • Hayes, Terry-Anya. Personal interview. 27 Oct. 2010.
  • Hunter, G., and J. Tuba. “Notes on Rose Hips and Evergreens as Sources of Vitamin C.” Canadian Medical Association Journal1 (1943): 30-32. Web. 1 Dec. 2010.
  • Michener, Martin C. Botany Everywhere: Woods, Field, Home, and Garden Plants of NE USA, Third Edition. Hollis, NH: MIST Software Associates, Inc., 2009. PDF.
  • Mittelhauser, Glen H., Linda L. Gregory, Sally C. Rooney, and Jill E. Weber. The Plants of Acadia National Park. Orono, Me.: University of Maine, 2010. Print.
  • Soule, Deb. Personal interview. 4 Feb. 2011.