Roses are one of the most popular plants known to mankind. Their history as a cultivated plant goes back at least 5000 years. The Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora), also known as Japanese Rose is a native Asian rose that has become invasive in many parts of the United States and Canada. Multiflora Rose is the most prolific in North America due to its invasive tendencies.
Roses have edible berries called rose hips. Multiflora Rose hips are small but plentiful. Some people eat them raw but making a hot or cold tea out of rose hips is a popular way to enjoy their unique flavor. To make the tea, mash the rose hips and steep them in hot water.
The best time to harvest Rose hips is after the first frost because they become soft and sweet. Depending on the weather, Multifora Rose hips may last until late winter before they begin to get rotten( colder weather seems to preserve them longerRosa multiflora
Roses have nutritional benefits that most people are not aware of. Rose hips and leaves are very rich in vitamin C, and the hips are also rich in carotene and a good source of essential fatty acids. The seeds are a good source of vitamin E and are often ground up and added to foods as a nutritional supplement. Roses are being studied as a food that may reduce instances of cancer, and possibly assist in improving cases of cancer.
Multiflora Rose often grows in a mass of thorny viney stalks. The thorns are relatively large and curved, the base of the thorn is a perfect elongated oval. You can break off a thorn and see the perfect oval scar left on the stem. The thorns grow directly on the stems and are located 2″-5″ apart growing on any side of the stem. The easier way to identify Multiflora Rose is by its multitude of small white roses, but they are only present during the summer.
They are sharp! The other thing to watch out for is that there are stiff irritating hairs inside the fruit protecting the seeds. They are usually not a problem in tea, but if you eat the rose hips raw you might experience some irritation.
If we have to deal with Multiflora Rose as a problematic invasive species, then the least we can do is get something out of it. The vitamin C content alone is enough to persuade us to add Multiflora Rose to our diet. The unique flavor of rose hip tea is a conversation starter and may help more people to learn to appreciate nature and its extreme diversity of wild edibles.
This Multiflora Rose was photographed at Moon Lake State Park.