This is Rose Hip gathering season and it couldn't come at a better time as now is precisely when we all need a good boost of vitamins to help us face into the winter cold season. Rose hips are the fruit of the Rose flower and I gather them from the much abundant and prolific Wild Rose which is, in the Kuyahoora Valley, the Multi-Flora Rose and is considered by the USDA Plant Data Base to be a noxious weed. There are several native rose species, but this is not one of them, It was a native to Japan and introduced to North America as rootstock. I stand in the middle when it comes to my opinion on the praise or condemnation of invasive plants, but it's hard not to love a Rose no matter where it came from and I am a strong believer in making use of what's available. Most of my farmer friends have strong distaste for the multiflora rose as it takes over meadows and is very difficult to eliminate once established. This is one of those amazing medicinal and nutritious plants that we don't have to be concerned about overharvesting and I am always grateful for that. I have discussed some of the uses of the flower in a previous post, but this time I want to focus on the sweet, juicy hips.

Rose hips are considered sour, sweet, cool and astringent. Some years they seem sourer than others and this years harvest was oh so sweet! I usually notice the sweetness first, then the sour, then the astringency. They are full of Vitamin C;1000mg/100g which is far higher than in an average orange, and antioxidants which is why they are so useful in the winter time to help fight infection. They contain tannin, pectin, flavanoids, sugars, carotene, fruit acids and fatty oil. Their action is also nutrient as is indicated by the sweet taste, mildly diuretic and mildly laxative. The laxative action, though, is for when, according to Phyllis Light, "The constipation is due to the fact that the stool is too damp and unformed for the colon to push it out." Otherwise, an astringent acting plant would be contraindicated in constipation. This astringency also lends Rose hips to be quite helpful for diarrhea. They are also great for inflammation of the respiratory tract when acute infection is present with runny nose or damp cough. This action can be attributed to the astringent cooling effect so used in any case of damp heat with inflammation whether acute or chronic with it being considered a sedative by Western Herbal classification and having affinity for the mucosa, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, and lymphatics.

I've often used Rose Hips with children who, in the winter, have been run down by chronic or re-occurring colds and who look pale with dark eyes. I do keep in mind, though, the cooling effect and when it's cold out I'll mix in some cinnamon or ginger as long as they don't have a fever. I also love it in Winter tonics for anyone, but especially the elderly with the addition of some other immune enhancing and nourishing herbs. My favorite preparation is to make a syrup and I gather them when they are at their peak of juiciness which is usually mid to late Fall, although there is no problem using them dried as long as they were picked and dried at the right time. Also, if I were in a pinch I would gather them any time in the Winter right off the vine as they would still contain small amounts of nourishment and I have, in fact, been seen eating them right along the trail while snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Some folks like to make them into a delicious jam, but then the seeds have to be removed which always seems like a tedious prospect given the small fruit size of this species and the syrup is so, so yummy. Below is the recipe for Rose Hip Syrup that I use. I often add in other herbs for Winter such as Burdock, Elderberries, Mullein or anything that seems helpful or appropriate. Rose Hips can also make a great red tea or can be dried and put right into a trail mix with other dried fruits and nuts.

Rose Hip Syrup
1 Cup of fresh or 1/2 Cup of dried Rose Hips. If I am using fresh I like to smash them up a bit before adding the water to open them up and release as much juice as possible.
1Quart of water
Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes
Strain and reheat liquid to just barely a simmer
Cook down to half of liquid
Add about 1 cup of sweetener per pint of liquid or to your to your preference. I like to use maple syrup or vegetable glycerine. I also usually sneak in some molasses, but have found that if I add too much, my kids can taste it and then they are less likely to take it.
Warm sweetener and liquid together, remove from heat and bottle
If kept in the refrigerator syrups can last up to 3-6 months and Brandy can be added to increase shelf life.
Dose: for children- 1tsp up to 3 times per day while sick or 1 tsp. 5-7 times per week for general nourishment and prevention. Adults- 2-3 tsp. 3 times per day.

Enjoy!

Resources:
The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism by Matthew Wood
Holistic Herbal by David Hoffmann
Invasive Plant Medicine by Timothy Lee Scott

Research:
Dr. Dukes Phytobotanical and Ethnobotanical Databases: The chemicals in Rose Hips http://sun.ars-grin.gov:8080/npgspub/xsql/duke/plantdisp.xsql?taxon=872
Effects of Rosa canina fruit extract on neutrophil respiratory burst http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11933119
Anti-inflammatory activities and mechanisms of action of the petroleum ether fraction of Rosa multiflora Thunb. hipshttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22019508
Anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of the ethanol extract of Rosa multiflora Thunb. hips.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18515025