What’s a Rose Hip?
A rose conjures up lots of images: romance, bouquets, weddings, funerals, gardens, even thorns. Rarely do we think “fruit.”
Yet rose hips—the fruit of a rose—are widely used in beverages and jams, and have been enjoyed for millennia.
Found just below the petals of the rose, the fruit contains the plant’s seeds.Today, however, no one is strolling through the rose section of their nearby botanical gardens to harvest the fruit—especially since most modern roses don’t actually produce rose hips.Rather, wild rose shrubs are selected for propagation based on (Ercişli and Eşitken 2004):
- quality of fruit (size and fleshiness, total soluble solids, total dry weight, vitamin C content)
- pest and disease resistance
Those with the desired qualities are then cloned. As with any agricultural product, cloning and seedlings offer different advantages, with cloning ensuring uniformity and seeds providing genetic diversity.
Benefits of Rose Hips
Rose hips have long been used medicinally, but scientists are still parsing out what specific elements have beneficial effects.
It seems that vitamin C and flavonoids are key, which is why shrubs are selected for their vitamin C content.
The flavonoids and organic acids that are also found in rose hips are just as important because they don’t allow the vitamin C to oxidize—meaning that more of the vitamin can be used by our bodies (Adamczak 2012).
Therefore, research also assesses how much vitamin C is retained as the rose hips are processed by the food industry, which frequently adds more organic acid in the form of citric acid.
Besides supplying vitamin C, which boosts our immune system and protects against sun damage, studies indicate that rose hips have a plethora of additional health benefits, including:
- antioxidant, which also impacts blood pressure and weight
- impact on blood sugar levels
Rose Hip Tea
Rose hips can be brewed on their own as a beverage. Generally called “tea,” rose hip tea technically isn’t tea because it contains no Camellia sinensis leaves or buds.
However, rose hips are sometimes added into true tea blends, although they are more commonly found as an ingredient in non-caffeine herbal, fruit, or rooibos blends.But no matter how you enjoy them, sweet–tangy rose hips are a lovely addition to your tea cupboard!
–”Flavanoid and organic acid content in rose hips (Rosa L., Sect. Caninae DC. EM. Christ.),” by Artur Adamczak et al., Acta Biologica Cracoviensia, Series Botanica 54/1:105–112, 2012.
–”Fruit characteristics of native rose hip (Rosa spp.) selections from the Erzurum province of Turkey,” by Sezai Ercişli and Ahmet Eşitken, New Zealand Journal of Crop and Horticultural Science 32:51–53, 2004.