Any rose producing round, tomato-like hips with long, wriggly appendages is a rugosa. The edible, orange-red hips turn sweeter after a frost and provide a good source of antioxidants and vitamin C. While the comparison with tomatoes or crab apples is more common, they remind me of Christmas tree baubles.
The classic way to identify a rugosa before the hips appear is by the distinctive foliage. Rugosa leaves are thicker than those of other roses, and are deeply veined, giving a wrinkled effect.
Rugosa roses are often used for hedging or landscaping, where their upright, thorny stems act as a deterrent to would-be intruders. Far from temperamental in temperate climates, rugosas are hardy, less troubled by salt spray than other roses and are vigorous and disease-resistant enough to handle neglect.
I’ve noticed some interesting autumn colour on rugosa roses in the neighbourhood, the leaves turning yellow, orange and russet. It’s nice to be able to enjoy yellow leaves on a rose – normally, this would not be a great sign!
Most rugosas used for landscaping have single flowers, but semis and doubles are available, including Rosa ‘Wild Edric’, ‘Roseraie de l’Hay’ and ‘Hansa’. Pink and white forms are often mingled together in planting schemes. The fragrant flowers are produced for a long time, increasingly alongside clusters of hips as the year progresses.
Rugosa roses are considered invasive in some parts of the world, so check the position locally before taking the plunge.