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. Some stories repeat well, especially stories about magic, and if this isn’t magic nothing is. Beautiful narrative photos, and I can’t help noting that the cross-sectioned hip seems to have a big toothy grin, exactly what one would expect in a happy ending! A lovely start to my day — thank you!

    1. All grin and legs. The sepals underneath always make me smile. They seem to be doing a country jig or trying to run away or to be the plant versions of octopuses. That’s why I have so many pictures.

      1. Yes! It’s a country jig! All grin and legs indeed — what a jovial little hip! Thank you! I’d missed the legs and they are most certainly a match to the grin!

  2. I have enjoyed this sequence of informative photographs. Like Oddment, I immediately thought of smiling teeth when I saw the cross-sectioned hip.

  3. A well-illustrated post to showcase the flower to seed process, Susan. Rugosas are one of my favorite scented roses, and which grow wild near our seashore, a heady scent on a warm summer day. I like the way the ripe fruit looks like little octopi. πŸ™‚

    1. Me too. I was amazed yesterday how fragrant ivy flowers are. There are not many scents you pick up just walking by. The air was very still which might have helped.

  4. Lovely. Did you know that colloquial French has rosehips as ‘gratte-cul’ – itch bum, because of the characteristics of the seeds? πŸ˜‰

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