Also Known As: Rose hips, Rose Haw
The rose hip, or rose haw, is the fruit of the rose plant, that typically is red-to-orange, but ranges from dark purple to black in some species. Rose hips begin to form in spring, and ripen in late summer through autumn.
Rose hips are particularly high in vitamin C content, one of the richest plant sources available. However, RP-HPLC assays of fresh rose hips and several commercially available products revealed a wide range of L-ascorbic acid content, ranging from 0.03 to 1.3%. Rose hips of some species, especially Rosa canina (Dog Rose) and R. majalis, have been used as a source of vitamin C. During World War II, the people of Britain were encouraged through letters to The Times newspaper, articles in the British Medical Journal, and pamphlets produced by Claire Loewenfeld, a dietitian working for Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, to gather wild-grown rose hips and to make a vitamin C syrup for children. This was because German submarines were sinking many commercial ships: citrus fruits from the tropics were very difficult to import.
Rose hips contain plenty of lycopene, an important and strong antioxidant that is an integral part of low density lipoprotein (LDL) as well as of many cellular membranes. Lycopene in rosehips differs greatly in its isomer distribution than in other sources (tomatoes, pink grapefruit).
A few rose species are sometimes grown for the ornamental value of their hips, such as Rosa moyesii, which has prominent large red bottle-shaped fruits.
Rose hips have recently become popular as a healthy treat for pet chinchillas and guinea pigs. These small rodents are unable to manufacture their own vitamin C and are unable to digest many vitamin-C rich foods. Rose hips provide a sugarless, safe way to increase their vitamin C intake.
Rose hips are also fed to horses. The dried and powdered form can be fed at a maximum of 1 tablespoon per day to improve coat condition and new hoof growth.
In his book Stalking the Faraway Places, wild foods enthusiast Euell Gibbons recommended stuffed rose hips made by slicing a large hip in half, removing the seeds and inserting a wild raspberry.
Rose hips are commonly used as an herbal tea, often blended with hibiscus and as an oil. They can also be used to make jam, jelly, marmalade and rose hip wine. Rose hip soup, "nyponsoppa," is especially popular in Sweden. Rhodomel, a type of mead, is made with rose hips.