(Rosa canina L.) Dog rose is a shrub belonging to the family Rosaceae. It can be found almost in the entire Northern Hemisphere. In Poland, it grows in the natural state near houses, at field boundaries, on abandoned land, at forest outskirts, and in sunny clearings.
Dog rose is a source of precious herbal raw material; it is used not only in food and cosmetic industry, but also as an ornamental plant.
The dog rose plant grows up to even 2 metres (although there have been reports of dog rose plants reaching heights of even 4 metres!). Its branchlets are bent in a bow shape, hanging and armed with strong, hooked thorns. Rose leaves have 5-7 dentate leaflets. Its beautiful, fragrant flowers come in gentle shades of pink and white, and are solitary or united in compact corymbs. The rose plant produces ‘false fruit’, rose hips, which are purple red or coral. The pericarp is extremely fleshy and contains numerous whitish or yellow fruits (achenes), often incorrectly referred to as seeds.
The most precious herbal raw materials obtained from the rose plant include fruits, flowers, and rose hip oil.
Fruits are obtained from plants growing naturally or cultivated, when they are devoid of pedicels and red in colour. Fruits are picked manually as they grow, after they turn colour, but are still hard. It is very important to pick fruits before frost comes, as overripe or frosted fruits lose some vitamin content and darken during drying. When harvest is timely and fruits are dried properly, dried rose hips normally retain their natural colour and sweet-sourish taste. Rose petals are normally picked at the beginning of flowering in dry weather and drought, in shade and airy location, or in a drying room. Finally, rose hip oil is obtained by pressing the seeds of the dog rose plant.
The small fruit of a rose plant is a real vitamin bomb.
Rose hips are a vitamin-rich raw material, abundant in vitamin C and vitamins B1, B2, C and K as well as flavonoids, tannins, pectins, organic acids, sugars, and mineral compounds. As the human body is not capable of producing vitamin C, its external supplementation is very important, and the dog rose plant is an indispensable source of vitamin C. Due to their rich nutrient composition, rose hips have a strengthening effect on the body and support immunity.
Health-promoting properties of dog rose
Due to its high content of vitamin C, dog rose accelerates wound healing and the absorption of iron, and it contributes to slowing down the ageing processes and the development of sclerotic lesions. Vitamin C and rutin seal the walls of blood capillaries and protect them from bursting and forming varicose veins. It is a good idea to opt for dog rose products during convalescence, times of fatigue, excessive stress, and as an adjunctive treatment for common cold. Extracts from rose hips further demonstrate alleviating, spasmolytic and diuretic effects. They are recommended as an adjunctive treatment for digestive system disorders, diarrhoea and some kidney, liver and bile duct disorders, as well as for inflammation of blood vessels.
The properties of the dog rose plant have also been appreciated by cosmetic manufacturers.
Due to the wealth of vitamins, flavonoids, and, particularly, organic acids from fruits, cosmetic products based on dog rose are like a rejuvenating potion for the skin. Rose hip extract shows an antioxidant effect, protecting the skin against harmful effects of free radicals and alleviating the effects of sunburn. It also strengthens collagen and elastin fibres, improving skin firmness and elasticity, and eliminating fine wrinkles. Dog rose cosmetics not only smooth the skin, but also, due to the high content of vitamin C, lighten hyperpigmentation and freckles and even out and revive the skin tone.
Rose hip oil is rich in vitamins C, A and E, but also in unsaturated fatty acids, which are extremely valuable and, when applied to the skin, help to restore its structure. Thanks to its moisturising and soothing properties, rose hip oil smooths out wrinkles and reduces other ageing-related changes.
As there are many possible ways of using dog rose, its popularity does not fade away.
The unusual properties of the dog rose plant were appreciated already in ancient times. In Greece, they became a symbol of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, while in Egypt – a symbol of Isis, the goddess of fertility.
And today, who of us does not cherish the recollection of grandma’s pantry and shelves loaded with jars and bottles full of juices, preserves, jams, syrups, or fruit purees? In fact, all these are made from fruits and flowers of the dog rose plant, so commonly used by our grandmothers. Preserves and confectionery fillings made from petals, as well as rose petals on their own, are valued for their unique taste and appearance. Rose hips are also used to make wine, and when fragmented, sweetened and accompanied by lemon juice, they can be used for making meat sauces.