The Rugosa Rose is one of the easiest roses to grow and in a wide variety of conditions. With its beautifully scented magenta blooms and large rose-hips it is a stunning addition to the garden or hedgerow. As it is extremely hardy the Rugosa Rose is often used in coastal plantings and on road verges. However, it is just at home in colder high-country landscapes and has been used as hedgerow plantings in many countries, though in some areas it is now considered a pest species. The robustness of these roses has been utilized in the cross breeding of them to develop disease resistance in garden hybrid roses and they are often used as root stock for standard roses.
The Rugosa are a suckering shrub which creates a dense and very thorny thicket, usually reaching 1 –1.5 m tall, though we also have a taller 2 m specimen. The leaves have a distinct crinkled appearance with pronounced veins, hence the name Rugosa which means wrinkled in Latin. The single magenta blooms are produced in late spring and can continue through summer. (While other colours, ranging from dark pink to white, and double blooms are found in this species we currently do not stock them.) The flowers have a strong pleasant fragrance and are followed by large, 2-3 cm diameter, tomato shaped rose-hips which are high in vitamin C, antioxidants and flavinoids. Both the hips and the flowers are edible, though care must be taken not to ingest the hairs inside the hips as these are an irritant. Rose hips are most commonly used in herbal teas and syrups. The leaves of the shrub are used medicinally in teas and all parts of the plant are astringent and good for the heart and circulation. The slight bitterness of the hips and petals aids digestion.
The Rugosa like other rose family plants e.g., hawthorn, raspberry, and strawberry, have similar herbal actions. These include, Astringent, Tonic, Laxative, Antispasmodic, Anti-inflammatory, Antidepressant, Sedative, Increases circulation, Heart tonic and Nutritive. Rose seeds can be dried and ground into a fine powder which is used as a diuretic and for relief of urinary tract disorders. in Chinese medicine an infusion of the flowers, known as mei gui hua, is said to promote blood circulation, stimulate the flow of energy, and provide relief for stomach distress, liver stagnation, dysentery, mastitis, and leukorrhea.
This rose is a very useful addition to any edible garden or in a fodder forage hedgerow. Sheep, goats and cattle love this sweet-smelling plant and will happily ‘contain’ it for you.