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Herbal Guide to Rose Hips: the Hippest Fruit (with Amazing Health Benefits!)

If you are looking for a simple, tasty way to get your daily dose of vitamin C, along with plenty of antioxidants, look no further than your rose bush! Rose hips benefits are plentiful—here’s how to grow, harvest, and enjoy them.

Rose hips blooming in a garden and made into tea

Lori’s Green Blessing:

This article was reviewed by herbalist Lori Snyder. This is not to be used as personal medical advice; always consult your health care professional for individual concerns.

Here is what Lori had to say:

Rosehips are sought after by birds, squirrels, rabbits, wild game, and bears!  Considered a herb dietary supplement, rosehips are often fed to horses and dogs recuperating from illness or injury as they help to restore the immune system and aid tissue repair. Feeding rosehips as part of the daily diet is beneficial for preventing illness. Chickens LOVE rosehip seeds, and like wild birds, they don’t seem bothered by the hairs.
Rosehips are so loaded with nutrients! Like a superfood, they contain Vitamins A, B complex, C, E, K, and minerals including calcium, silica, iron, and phosphorous. Rosehips are particularly high in bioflavonoids which are rich antioxidants including rutin that help strengthen heart and blood vessels as well as prevent degeneration of tissue. The natural pectin found in rosehips is beneficial for gut health and removing toxins from the body.

What are Rose Hips?

If you grow roses in your garden, you may get the added benefit of rose hips, a cool-cat fruit that packs a healthy punch!

Rose hips are the rose plant’s seedpod/fruit. Although, most home gardeners don’t get many as we prune back our roses to encourage strong blooming. This year, decrease your pruning and see if you can encourage a crop of tasty, healthy rose hips to bloom!

Which Variety Should I Harvest?

The rugosa roses are typically harvested for the tastiest hips, but all roses will produce them in the late summer and fall if left alone by secateur-wielding gardeners.

What do Rose Hips Look Like?

Identifying these edibles is not too challenging. They look like an oblong cranberry or perhaps a miniature cherry tomato.

Rose hips are typically a vibrant reddish-orange. In some species, hips can even be dark purple or even black.

What do They Taste Like?

Rose hips are tart and reminiscent of a zesty crabapple in flavor, although not quite as tasty. They are, however, prized for their health benefits and jam-packed with Vitamin C.

Did you know that the rose petals are edible too? Yes, they are! Read more about Edible Flowers here.

Rose Hips Benefits

Rose hips blooming in a garden

Now that you know what they taste like and what they are, let’s chat about why you may want to consume or use them. Here are some of the most important rose hip benefits

High Levels of Vitamin C

As mentioned above, rose hips are prized for their high concentration of vitamin C in particular. In fact, they contain 50% more Vitamin C than oranges!

Vitamin C is essential for our immune systems and can help our bodies stimulate white blood cell production.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

If you suffer from autoimmune disease, adding these cherry buds to your daily consumption can help reduce pain. In fact, a study conducted showed that 65% of participants with osteoarthritis had a reduction in pain.

High in Antioxidants

While your body produces antioxidants on its own, changes in diet and increases in stress can leave your body out of whack. Antioxidants have been shown to help reduce the potential for chronic conditions in healthy people, meaning your risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes or heart disease can be mitigated.

Other Benefits

Rose hips also strengthen capillaries, regulate blood circulation, and relieve teething problems in infants. Rose flowers also have a lot of healing benefits as well

Medicinal Uses

There are several treatments rose hips benefits have been used for historically. A few of these ailments include:

  • arthritis
  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • menstrual cramping
  • varicose veins
  • bladder or urinary irritations

How to Grow Rose Hips

If you are growing hips in your own garden, do not use any chemical sprays or pesticides. Make sure that you grow natural, organic roses for edible purposes.

Do not prune or cut back roses after blooming. The hips are coming. Get ready! You will see them decorating your rose plants in autumn and can start picking them fresh at any time.

hand picking fresh rose hips for herbal tea in autumn

Harvesting Tips

The best time to harvest Rosa rugosa is in the winter when they turn soft, particularly after the first frost. But if you live somewhere with lots of rain, the rosehips can get soggy. If you’re growing a Rosa canina, then it’s best to pick them when they are firm and bright in colour.

  • Rose hips are ripe when they are bright red and soft to the touch.
  • Harvest them with pruners to protect the shape of your rose plant. You can harvest rose plants heavily and they will thank you for it.
  • It’s best to prune them back in winter so that the new growth is delayed until spring.
  • Remember, roses come with thorns, so protect yourself with rose gloves, long trousers, a long-sleeved shirt, and closed-toe shoes.
  • Place the rose hips in a colander and rinse with water and they are ready for use!

Lori, our herbalist mentor, also suggests abiding by the honorable harvest. Harvest only what you need in a way that doesn’t hurt the plant or the other wildlife that enjoys the rosehip.

cup of fresh rose hip tea

Preparation Tips

When preparing the rosehips, the hairs can get everywhere. To prevent this, try cutting the rosehips and then placing them in water. This way, you can scoop out the seeds and the hairs so that the hairs are not flying around.

There are several different ways you can enjoy rose hips. Here are some of my favorite:

Make Tea

Perhaps the most popular usage of this edible is making tea. To make the rosehip tea, crush the hips with a pestle and mortar to help release the goodness. Then steep the rosehips with boiling water.

Jams and Jellies

You can also use rose hips to make preserves. It’s best to remove the seeds before you use them to make syrup, jams, and jellies. Wash, then trim off the two ends and slice them in half to remove the seeds.

Dry Them

While you will get the most rose hips benefits with fresh buds, you can also dry rose hips and keep them for use all year.

After harvesting, wash the rose hips and cut off the blossom end and stem. Set them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet to dry for a few weeks in a cool, dark place.

Or if you are in a hurry, add them to a food dehydrator until they are hard, wrinkly, and darker in color.

Add dried rose hips directly into hot water for tea, or grind dried hips into a powder using a food processor. Dried deseeded rosehips can be made into a delicious jam or added to a variety of dishes including soups, sauces, and desserts.

Add the dried rosehips to wet ingredients or rehydrate them by mixing them with a little water so they are not hard in baked goods. You will be surprised to discover that powdered rosehips add depth and tartness to chili or black bean soup!

Crafting Projects

Not only are they good for you, but rose hips are also gorgeous! Check out this stunning Rose Hip Wreath as part of a round-up of Fabulous Fall Wreaths!

Making a diy rose hips wreath

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  1. I live in Arizona. My rose hips dont turn the beautiful red that are in the pictures. They are either green or almost black (after the frost). When is the best time for me to pick them, when they are green or black?

    • Hi Wendy, it could be that you don’t have a fruiting variety, where the rosehips ripen to red. Or it could be that the season isn’t long enough to ripen them. Either way, it might be better to look for a variety of rose that will produce rosehips, or better yet, head out and forage for wild ones!

  2. Thanks Stephanie for all the good advice I was delighted to know how to use rose hips also the extending the flower season.Where can I buy Mr Stephensons book the greenhouse is amazing they cost lots to buy here in Europe Thank you Mary Coakley

  3. Hello Stephanie,
    Many thanks for your info and experience.
    We’re in NWOntario, & thus, our growing season is shorter than yours on the west coast.
    Our rosehips are very dark, with almost purplish-black skins, but, just under the outer skin, a deep cranberry red colour. We think (?) that this is a wild white rose bush.
    i would like to make teas from them.
    Any advice?
    Thank-you so much, joan

    • Hi Joan, rosehips usually come from rosa canina or rosa rugosa, but if you are sure that what you have is a rosehip, then follow the advice in this article for harvesting and using them. I can’t say how they will taste for sure, because I haven’t tried them. Keep us updated!

  4. First, many thanks for all you share with us. I especially make use of the bath tea…I put ALL you list in them. :)
    On this post, would wild roses that grow along our coast apply to this as well? I am on Vancouver Island and know where they grow here and there on the west coast of the island.
    I use rosehip seed oil as my face moisturizer and keep pondering whether I can just make my own.
    The same for ‘rose oil’ which I assume is made from the petals rather than the seed pods, yes?
    It is always so expensive and I tend not to make certain recipes because of the cost.
    Thanks again!

    • Hi Shelley, You are very welcome. I’m glad you are enjoying the bath teas (all of them!). Yes, those roses are great, as long as they aren’t sprayed. I know if they are spraying for knotweed, etc, they tend to put up signs. Just please check first. I have more answers for you on how to make your own rose skincare products, but I’ll send you to this post first: Rosehip seed oil comes from the seeds of the rosehip (not the rosehip which is the fruit) and so it is very difficult to extract yourself. I buy it. Rose oil can be made as an infusion or purchased as an essential oil (this is explained in the rose recipes article). And you can easily make your own rosewater, but that is from the petals. Rose recipes can be expensive, but you can also get the benefits of it without the cost by using homemade rose water and buying rosehip seed oil and adding those to your products. I hope this helps!


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