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Rose Plant Wild edible

Rose Plant Wild edible

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The wild rose plant found widely across North America, as well as many places around the world, is an overlooked forage food. Most people look at the plant and see flowers and thorns not thinking of the multitude of food choices the entire plant provides over an extended harvest period. For the semi-initiated into foraging, wasted comments such as, “You can make rose hip tea.”, is about all you will get. Yet this is a must if you want to forage wild food. Rose hips contains vitamins such as C and A as well as antioxidants, along with nutrients such as zinc. The seeds can contain vitamin E.

There are 35 or so species of the wild rose family in the USA. Some species were brought to North America and became naturalized over time (invasive).

Common Names

Pasture rose, Scotch briar, Prairie rose, Wood rose, Wild brier, Sweetbrier


Roses grow on thick canes; the ends of old canes turn gray to tan. Newer growth is dark green in color; all stems and branches have thorns

Most truly wild roses have flowers with only five petals, usually pink to white. Most also bloom only once, in early summer. Any rose blooming later in the season may be a cultivated variety gone wild.

The plants, because there are so many varieties, can be anything from small bushes to large shrubs to vining plants growing upward. The most important visual characteristic will be the thorns on branches and the leaves that look very much like domestic rose plant leaves. In late summer to fall the hips developed from pollinated flowers are the dead give-away.


As the map shows, wild roses can be found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. They prefer partial shade and moist well-drained soil in dry fields to open woods.


You can pick the ripe hips in the fall when it is full and, typically, red. The buds can be picked right into winter.

Harvest young shoots and peel off any thorns during spring and summer.

Pick flowers when they are in bloom. Make sure to take only healthy looking flowers. Cut the portion at the base as that may be bitter.

Leaves can be pick and used in teas.


Rose hips can be eaten raw or cooked. There are multiple ways to use them. You can bake rose hips into breads or pies, puddings, soups, jellies and their pectin has been used as a thickener. Remember, rose hips and leaves make a nutritious tea!!

The rose petals are edible. You can candy rose petals add to cakes for decoration and yes they can be eaten. Petals can also be made into jams, jellies, vinegars and syrups.

The young shoots peel and eat the young shoots raw or cooked with other vegetables.

Interesting Notes

The pollen and nectar of the wild rose is a valued food source for many beneficial insects, including many types of bees.

Rose hips are a winter food for birds and mammals such as waxwings, pine grosbeaks, grouse, squirrels and mice to name a few.

Native Americans used the roots as an ointment for sore eyes, and the wood of the plant for arrows as well as a food source.

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USDA plant guide