With their bright red hues and sweet-tart flavour, rosehips are one of my favourite wild edibles to forage in the autumn. These ruby-colored fruits form on wild rose bushes after the flowers fade, and they are absolutely packed with vitamin C, antioxidants, and other nutrients.
Though small, rosehips provide big flavor that’s perfect for making teas, jams, syrups, and more. In this blog post, I’ll share tips on identifying rosehips and safely harvesting them, along with some of my favourite ways to use rosehips in the kitchen.
- Common names: rose hip, rose haw, rose hep
- Botanical name: Rosa spp., especially Rosa canina and Rosa rugosa
- Plant family: Rosaceae
The rosehip is the fruit of rose plants. It is typically red to orange in color. Rosehips form after successful pollination and fertilization of flowers on rose shrubs. They are produced by several species in the genus Rosa, especially the dog rose (Rosa canina) and rugosa rose (Rosa rugosa). The rose hip or fruit is sometimes called a rose haw or rose hep.
Rose plants belong to the Rosaceae family of flowering plants, which also includes other shrubs like apples, plums, cherries, almonds, peaches and strawberries. The rose hip is considered an accessory fruit because it grows from the receptacle that holds the rose flower
- Rosehips contain high levels of vitamin C, in fact higher than citrus fruits. They can contain up to 200 times more vitamin C than oranges.
- They also contain various carotenoids, flavonoids, polyphenols and anthocyanins which give them antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- The hairs inside the rosehip fruit are a source of itch-relieving fiber used in fabric and herbal remedies.
- Rosehip powder is used in food products like jams, bread, wine, tea and soup. The high pectin content makes it useful for thickening or binding.
- Rosehip syrup and jam provides a tangy, floral flavor popular in Middle Eastern and European cuisine. The syrup can be used in desserts, drinks and salad dressings.
- Rosehip oil is extracted from the seeds and used topically for skin and hair care due to its vitamin E and antioxidant content.
- Native American tribes traditionally used rosehips as a food source and medicine, especially for infections and inflammatory conditions.
- In Europe, rosehips were used as a vitamin C supplement to prevent scurvy during World War II when citrus fruits were unavailable.
- Rosehips can be eaten raw but are more palatable when cooked, dried or infused into beverages. They can be made into jam, jelly, soup, tea,
Where to find rosehips around the world
- Europe: Rosehips are native to Europe and found widely across the continent. Countries where they are common include the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Norway, and Russia.
- Asia: Rose species are native to Asia and rosehips can be found in countries like China, Japan, Korea, Turkey, and parts of the Middle East.
- North America: Wild rose species grow across much of North America. Rosehips can be found in Canada, the United States, and parts of Mexico.
- South America: Rosehips are mainly found in the southern parts of South America including Chile, Argentina, and parts of Brazil.
- Africa: Some native rose species grow in northern and southern Africa. Rosehips may be found in countries like Morocco, South Africa, Ethiopia, and Kenya.
- Australia and New Zealand: Introduced rose species have naturalized in Australia and New Zealand and produce rosehips there.
Best places to forage for rosehips
- Hedgerows – Rosehips are very commonly found in hedgerows throughout the UK countryside. Species like dog rose (Rosa canina) frequently grow in farmland and roadside hedgerows.
- Woodland edges – Wild roses often grow on the sunny edges of woodlands and forests. You can find rosehips here later in summer.
- Coastal areas – Rose species like the burnet rose (Rosa spinosissima) grow well on coastal dunes, cliffs and beaches. These produce rosehips.
- Moorlands – In upland moors and heathlands, species like the dog rose and field rose (Rosa arvensis) produce rosehips.
- Gardens and parks – Ornamental rose species grown in gardens or parks also produce rosehips after flowering.
- Scrublands – In rough scrubby areas and wastelands, wild roses can spread and their rosehips can be collected.
- Farmland – Along the edges of fields and pastures, dog rose bushes frequently grow and produce hips.
- Roadsides – Wild roses are common along rural roadsides. Their rosehips can often be found here.
Rosehips season – when to pick rosehips
- Late summer to early fall is the best time to harvest rosehips. They ripen in late summer and reach peak ripeness after the first frost.
- Harvest rosehips once they have turned from green to a bright red or orange color. This indicates they are ripe.
- The first light frost helps sweeten the rosehips, so aim to pick them soon after the first frost hits in your area. This is generally around September – November depending on your location.
- Pick rosehips as soon as possible after the frost, as birds and animals like to eat them. Don’t wait too long or they may get munched.
- In warmer climates without frost, harvest rosehips when they turn from green to red, usually around late summer.
- In colder climates, harvest before heavy frosts or snow arrive, usually in October or November.
- The best rosehips are plump, firm and brightly colored. Avoid mushy or dried out ones.
- Use pruners or scissors to snip off ripe rosehips cleanly at the stem. Handle them gently to avoid bruising.
MORE SEASONAL FORAGING
- Monthly Foraging Guide – What’s in season now >>
- Foraging in August – Guide to wild food & recipes >>
- Foraging in November – Guide to wild food & recipes >>
How to identify rosehips
- Look at the plant – Rosehips come from shrubs in the rose family, which have thorny stems and pinnately compound leaves.
- Flower remnants – Rosehips form at the base of rose flowers after they fade, so you may see remnants of rose flowers attached to the top.
- Shape – Rosehips are round or oval in shape, sometimes pear-shaped. They look plump and are wider at the base.
- Size – They range in size from 0.5-2 inches (1-5 cm) in diameter.
- Color – Rosehips are typically red, orange or sometimes purplish-black. The color indicates ripeness.
- Flesh – The flesh is juicy and soft when ripe. Hard, green hips are unripe.
- Seeds – Cutting a rosehip open reveals many small seeds embedded in hairy seed fibers.
- Taste – Ripe rosehips taste sweet, tart and floral. Unripe ones are bitter.
- Location – Look for rosehips in hedgerows, thickets, woodland edges and other areas roses grow wild.
Rosehips medicinal properties
- High in vitamin C – Rosehips contain very high levels of vitamin C, which supports the immune system and acts as an antioxidant. Vitamin C aids collagen production for skin health.
- Anti-inflammatory – Compounds like gallic acid, catechins and carotenoids give rosehips anti-inflammatory properties. This helps reduce inflammation in conditions like arthritis, gout and joint pain.
- Antioxidant – Rosehips are high in polyphenols and anthocyanins which have antioxidant effects to help counter cell damage by free radicals.
- May support heart health – Some research indicates the antioxidants in rosehips may help protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation, support blood flow, and lower blood pressure.
- Bioflavonoids for immunity – Rosehips contain bioflavonoids that can boost immune cell activity to help fight infections.
- Analgesic effects – Rosehip extracts have exhibited pain-relieving effects in some studies, which may benefit osteoarthritis.
- Anti-aging for skin – The antioxidant effects of rosehips may help slow skin aging and wrinkles when applied topically.
Nutritional value of rosehips
- Vitamin C – Exceptionally high in vitamin C. 100g of rosehips provides 426mg of vitamin C, which is over 700% of the daily value. Much higher than citrus fruits.
- Carotenoids – Contains beneficial carotenoids including beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin. These provide antioxidant effects.
- Vitamin A – A good source of provitamin A carotenoids which the body converts into vitamin A.
- Vitamin E – Provides vitamin E in the form of alpha-tocopherol. An antioxidant that benefits skin and eye health.
- Vitamin K – Supplies vitamin K which aids blood clotting and bone health. A 100g serving has around 25% DV of vitamin K.
- B vitamins – Contains useful amounts of B vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, folate and vitamin B6.
- Minerals – Provides minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and manganese.
- Flavonoids – Rich in flavonoids like quferol and gallic acid that have antioxidant effects.
- Carbohydrates – Rosehip pulp contains pectin and fruit sugars that provide carbohydrate energy.
How to use rosehips in cooking
- Jams & Jellies – Rosehips are classic for making jams, jellies, and preserves. Cook mashed rosehips with sugar and pectin. Add lemon juice for a tangy flavor.
- Syrups – Simmer crushed rosehips into simple syrups that can be used to sweeten drinks, desserts, yogurt, oatmeal, etc. Add honey, cinnamon, or orange zest.
- Tea – Use dried rosehips to make a tangy, fruity tea. Steep alone or blend with hibiscus, mint, ginger or other herbs.
- Soup – Puree rosehips into creamy soups like carrot, pumpkin, or tomato to add tartness. Can also be simmered in broth-based soups.
- Sauces – Puree fresh or cooked rosehips into a sauce for meats like duck, chicken or pork. The tartness pairs well with rich meats.
- Baked goods – Fold chopped rosehips into muffin, scone, cake or cookie batters. They add pretty flecks of color and tangy flavor.
- Rosehip powder – Grind dried rosehips into powder to use in smoothies, yogurt bowls, oatmeal, etc. Provides tang and nutrition.
- Infused vinegar & oil – Steep rosehips in vinegar or oil to extract flavor. Use infused vinegars in salad dressings and marinades.
- Rosehip tea cocktails – Make rosehip syrup for use in cocktails. Combine with gin, vodka, champagne, lemonade or cranberry juice.
How to safely forage for rosehips
- Identify correctly – Be 100% certain you have accurately identified the rosehips and they are from an edible rose species. Use a guidebook or foraging expert to confirm.
- Avoid roadsides – Only harvest rosehips growing away from roadsides, as these may be contaminated by car exhaust. Stick to clean areas.
- No pesticides – Forage rosehips growing in areas you know have not been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. Avoid ornamental roses.
- Harvest ripe – Only collect ripe, firm rosehips that are fully red, orange or purplish in color. Unripe green hips can cause digestive upset.
- Clean well – Rinse rosehips thoroughly in cold water as soon as you get home. Remove debris, bugs, and any remaining stems or flower parts.
- Watch for hairs – Some rosehip interiors are very hairy. Be cautious when cleaning and pureeing. The hairs can irritate skin and mouths.
- Eat in moderation – Introduce rosehips gradually to ensure they agree with you. They have hard seeds and high vitamin C content.
- Store properly – Use fresh rosehips soon after harvesting. To store, refrigerate for a few days or dehydrate thoroughly. Can also freeze.
- Consult an expert – If you are ever unsure, do not eat anything you forage. Double check with an experienced forager or reference book.
This blog post was originally written on 5 February 2024 and last updated on 5 February 2024