From Bud to Bloom to Hip: How a Wild Rose Sets Seed

Rugosa rose bud
Green sepals protect rose petals until the buds are ready to open. Rosa rugosa sepals are long and wavy.

Rosa rugosa starting to open
The rose begins to unfurl its five pink petals
Fully open rugosa rose with five petals
Hundreds of stamens tipped with anthers coated in golden pollen surround the female parts of the flower.
Bee pollinating a rose
Bees transfer pollen on their legs and bellies from one flower to another as they move around the garden.
Unripe green Rugosa rose hips
Pollen travels down the style to fertilise the ovary which swells into seed-filled fruits called hips. After the petals fall, unripe green hips can be seen behind the sepals.
Rosa rugosa hips with long green sepals
The hips turn orange-red as they swell and ripen. In rugosas, the long sepals remain attached and are very decorative.
Rugosa rose flowering with hips
Many rugosa roses can flower and bear hips at the same time. If roses are dead-headed, no hips form.
Cross-section of a Rugosa rose hip showing the seeds
A cross-section of a fully ripe Rosa rugosa hip shows the seeds.
Rosa rugosa hips and foliage in autumn
Rosa rugosa’s wrinkled foliage turns yellowy in autumn but is highly disease resistant. The plant readily spreads and forms thickets.

I’ve chosen a rugosa to show the rosebud to rosehip stages as their tomato-like hips are so beautiful and easily recognised. Other wild roses (known as species roses) follow the same process, although it’s more common for roses that produce large amounts of hips to flower once per year.

Wild roses usually have just five petals and lots of stamens. In double roses, some or all of the stamens have mutated into extra petals so the fullest flowers produce little pollen and rarely form hips. This means modern garden roses can put more of their energy into repeat-flowering: dead-heading or summer pruning those will help too.

I know many regular readers will be very familiar with this, but thought it would be nice to show the bud to seed process in pictures for those who are not. Shared for Cee’s Flower of the Day.

39 Replies to “From Bud to Bloom to Hip: How a Wild Rose Sets Seed”

  1. Very interesting for me as I’ve only seen rose hips once or twice in my life, let alone the whole process of forming them.

  2. oh this is wonderful – have you ever tried to grow your own? I have a lovely one which has been spreading by itself, but now I think it is about time I tried to grow my one from its many hips

    1. No, but I worked at a place where 100,000+ rose seedlings were grown each year. Most of them would flower in their first year when they were still super-spindly, so you shouldn’t have to wait too long to see what you’ve got. You might want to cold stratify them first. If you’ve somehow ended up with hybrid seeds, the young roses will be variable.

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