The rose: queen of the flowers and symbol of love. This flower is more than a gift to show your love to someone but a great medicinal plant that has been used for centuries.

Legends and lore about roses go back over 3,000 years. The Greeks believed that roses formed after the goddess Aphrodite got her foot stuck on a thorn, which bled and formed the rose while trying to help Adonis. The Turks believed that red roses obtained their color from the blood of Muhammad after his blood landed on the flower and stained it. It is also said that roses did not get their thorns until the fall of Eden.

The Egyptians were known for their perfumes, which often included roses, but most notably is how Cleopatra used them. It is said that she once had the floors of her palace covered in roses petals that were knee-deep! She hoped that the romantic aroma of the flower would help her win over Mark Anthony when he came to visit her. Whether it was the flowers or Cleopatra herself, she did win him over.

The modern rose can be traced back to China and now can be found throughout the world. There are some native species to other parts of the world including Europe and North America. Today the rose is best known for its fragrance and it’s fruit, rose hips, that are high in vitamin C. All parts of the rose have been used in medicine and have been used to treat anything from topical injuries, uterus issues, and the cold and flu.

Vitamin C

There are over 100 different species of roses so that means there are over 100 different types of rose hips available. Not every rose is the same so that means that not every rosehip will the same either. One study tested 11 different species to find which one had the highest amount of ascorbic acid (vitamin C). They found that the species Rosa villosa has the highest source of vitamin C.

Vitamin C is important to have because it is water-soluble and does not store in the body. This vitamin is responsible for the growth and repair of tissues throughout the body. It is used by the body when healing wounds and repairing bones. There is a possibility that vitamin C could also help lower the risks of certain diseases or improve symptoms of chronic diseases.

Medicinal Roses

There are a number of different rose species available, but there are some species that have been used in medicine and for other purposes for centuries. The rose hips from the species Rosa villosa has the highest concentration of vitamin C but here are some other roses that are commonly used:

  • White Rose (Rosa X alba)
  • Dog Rose (R. canina)
  • Provence Rose (R. centifolia)
  • China Rose (R. chinensis)
  • Damask Rose (R. damascena)
  • Eglantine Rose (R. eglanteria)
  • French Rose (R. gallica)
  • Cherokee Rose (R. laevigata)
  • Japanese Rose (R. rugosa)


Common Name: Rose
Scientific Name: Rosa spp.
Flowers: colors vary, single flower or in clusters
Leaves: alternate, pinnate, 5-9 leaflets
Fruit: turns from green/yellow to red, sizes vary, hard or pulpy
Harvest Time: Spring- first autumn frost
Parts Edible: Petals, hips (fruit)
Found: Native to mostly China, found throughout the world; likes damp ground

Historic Uses

-Rose petals have been used as tonics and mouthwashes to treat catarrhs, sore throats, mouth sores, and stomach issues
-Roots were once used to make teas
-In ancient Greece, rose petals mixed with oil was used to treat uterus problems
-In Ayurvedic medicine, rose petal poultices have been used to treat skin wounds and inflammation and rose water was used as a laxative
-During high middle ages in Germany rose hips were used to treat just about anything
-Native Americans mixed the petals with bear grease to treat mouth sores, powder petals were used t treat sores and blisters, and rose water made with rainwater was used on sore eyes
-Native Americans also used the inner bark of the rose to treat boils
-Since the 1600’s roses have been used to treat headaches, dizziness, mouth sores, menstrual cramps, diarrhea, tuberculosis, coughs, vomiting, and to strengthen the stomach

Vitamins, Minerals, & More


-Volatile oils

Properties: astringent, carminative, diuretic, laxative, ophthalmic


-Vitamins A, B, C, E, K
-Organic acids
-Essential fatty acids

Properties: anti-inflammatory, astringent, carminative, diuretic, laxative, ophthalmic


-Rose hips are used in making teas, syrups, jams, jellies, and wine
-Hips are also used in baking and cooking
-Petals are made into rose water
-Oil from the petals are used in perfumes, soaps, candles, and more
-Rose petals are often candied and used in desserts or fresh salads
-Both rose hips and petals can be found in many beauty products
-Dried flowers are used in decor and potpourri


-Consuming too much rose petals and rose hips can cause diarrhea due to too much vitamin C
-Other side effects may include:  nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, stomach cramps, fatigue, headache, inability to sleep
-Do not give to children under two years of age
-Rose hips could interact with many medications talk to your doctor before using rose hips if on:

  •  Antacids
  • Estrogen pills
  • Antipsychotics
  • Diuretics
  • Blood thinners
  • Anti-Inflammatories

-Rose hips could interact with any of the following conditions: diabetes, blood disorders, kidney disorders, heart attacks


-Flowers should be harvested during the spring and summer after they have bloomed
-Rosehips should be harvested in the fall when the hips are orange to red
-Hips will become sweeter after the first frost but harvest before they begin to dry out
-Soft rose hips are spoiled


Candied Rose Petals
Rose Petal Jam
Rose Hip Whiskey Smash
DIY Rose Water
Wild Rose Petal Sangria

Practicing Sustainable Wild Harvesting

  1. Only harvest plants you know are safe and can identify
  2. Only harvest plants in safe areas that are not contaminated or polluted
  3. Do not harvest on private property without permission
  4. Harvest no more than 10% or use the method: take 1 leave 2
  5. Know how to handle and prepare the plants you are harvesting
  6. Always check the legal status of the plant you want to harvest (is it endangered?)


Rose Hip Benefits
PFAF Dog Rose
Web MD Rose Hips
The History of Roses
Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)
-Carr, Anna, William H. Hylton, and Claire Kowalchik. Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs. N.p.: Rodale, 1998. 422-27. Print.
-Castleman, Michael. The New Healing Herbs: The Essential Guide to More than 125 of Nature’s Most Potent Herbal Remedies. 3rd ed. N.p.: Rodale, 2010. 403-05. Print.

Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor, veterinarian, dietician, or health expert. Licensing is not available in the United States for an herbalist to practice herbal medicine.  If you wish to have advice on a medical problem, please consult a doctor. Every person is different and I cannot guarantee that any information provided will work for everyone.  You are responsible for your own health and any decision to alter your health is your own choice. Please consult a doctor before making any serious health changes.

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