Hip-Bearing Roses: Rugosas

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.

Rosa rugosa has clusters of orange hips

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.

Rosa rugosa has excellent autumn colour

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!

Wild pink rugosa rose

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.

Hips of rugosa rose

Rugosa roses are considered invasive in some parts of the world, so check the position locally before taking the plunge.

10 Replies to “Hip-Bearing Roses: Rugosas”

  1. Hips! They are almost as compelling as buds! These are beautiful, and I am loving all, but the first and last, especially the last, look absolutely Chihulian. Wonderful images. And, at year’s end, nicely comforting.

  2. The northern New England coastline is edged with thousands of rugosas. Their petals make an excellent potpourri with fragrance that lasts for years. When I lived in that area, I’d collect them, but haven’t been back for many years.

  3. My first encounter with rose hips was in a tea – a horrible, bitter concoction, steeped for so long it was opaque. Even now I shudder to recall my distaste for the brew.

    BUT! I am a very big fan of rugosa roses for many reasons – their hardiness, their heady fragrance, and the fact that birds, if not this human, appreciate the fruit after the blooms are spent.

    This year I saw a planting alongside a municipal water treatment plant – the hips were enormous – the size of ping-pong balls.

    You still won’t get me to drink the stuff, though.

  4. I have one which I grew from a cutting and I’ll be thrilled if it has hips as beautiful as the ones in your photos. Possibly lack of water will have some bearing on that, though.

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