Wild Rose

Rosa acicularis – Wild Rose

Wild RoseRosa acicularis

Rosa = ro-sa, from the classical name for various roses;

acicularis = L. “needle-shaped”;

Identification: This bushy shrub is the floral emblem of Alberta. It grows 30 – 120 cm high. The flowers are usually solitary with pink, or occasionally white petals. The leaves are pinnate with 5-7 leaflets which are coarsely serrated. The branches are densely covered with straight slender bristles. The pear-shaped fleshy hip is marble-sized, orange-to-red, containing many seeds.

Distribution & Habitat: This common plant is found in forested regions, along roadsides, and on open slopes.

Preparation & Uses: The rose fruit (“rose hips”) can be eaten raw, stewed, candied, or made into preserves or good tea. Sugar or honey improves the flavour.

Rose hip apple jam

I have found plain rose hip jam rather dull but if you mix it with other fruits such as saskatoons, apples or blueberries it has more flavor. For rose hip apple jam, remove the seeds and blossom and cut up both apples and hips. Add 1 cup rose hips to 2 cups cored, chopped apples. Add ¼ cup of water. Bring the sauce to a boil, adding ½ to 1 ½ cups of honey and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Continue to cook until it thickens. Pour into sterilized jars and seal.

The fresh petals are a delight. I have often walked along wilderness paths chewing away on petals which almost melt in your mouth like a perfumed bubble gum. A great breakfast spread can be made by wrapping a stick of butter in rose petals. Place it in a cool place for a few days and spread its elegant taste on a cornmeal muffin. The petals can also be candied or used plain in salads (showing off their grace). The hips of this plant are extremely high in vitamin C and they also contain vitamin E, B, K and beta-carotene. The peeled spring shoots are great trail nibblers.

The seeds were sometimes cooked by Indians and eaten for muscular pains. The Blackfoot Indians called the roots Kini, from which they made a bitter drink for the treatment of diarrhea, flu, dysentery and worms. These Indians also called the fruit apis-is-kifsu-wa (tomato flower) and used it in pemmican.

The blossoms were used by some tribes for colic and “clogged stomach”. The Ojibwa made a powder of dried blossoms into a tea for heartburn.

As a spring tonic, both roots and leaves were employed to cleanse the blood. The root has a mild analgesic property which was applied to headaches, rheumatism and such problems. A decoction of the blossom is astringent and can be used a gargle for sore throat and mouth sores. For eyes, a decoction of cambium or an infusion of the hip was used to soothe. An infusion of root cambium of both rose and red raspberry has been used to treat cataract.

Almost all parts of the plant have been made into a wash or dressing for cuts, sores and any situation indicating a need to coagulate blood. The petals make a good easy bandage. Rose is one of the Amerindian s most important wound herbs. The most common method of application is to sprinkle fine shavings of debarked stems into a washed wound. Poultices were also used. Stems galls were particularly prized as a burn remedy. The growths were charred, crushed and dusted onto the burn.

A poultice of the leaves can be used to relieve insect stings.

The Chinese made a simple infusion of the flower to “regulate vital energy (Qi)”;

A wine of rose petal can be used for uterine cramps and to ease labour pains. It also soothes after childbirth.

Blaine, the photographer for this book, developed an interesting drink — Wild Rose liqueur. First, you need to pick flower petals in partial or full bloom, with no wilted or dried ones. Let the blooms soak in alcohol (as pure as possible) for two weeks, or until the colour has all faded out of the plant material. You then decant off the liquid and dilute to forty percent alcohol, sweeten to taste and bottle. The resulting liqueur is said to be a cross between Grand Marnier and Chanel No. 5! No matter how long you sit up drinking this liqueur around the campfire, you’ll always come home smelling like a rose.