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Enjoy Fruit From Roses As Much As The Blooms
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
The bright orange-red fruit on the roses mystified gardeners at last year's Fall Field Day at the Truck Crops Experiment Station in Crystal Springs. Since most gardeners have opted for hybrid teas, they have never seen anything but flowers on roses. While peaches, plums, apricots, apples and blackberries are all from the rose family, we hardly consider the fruit of the rose itself.
Rose hips, the fruit of the rose bush, are edible and can be made into jam, wine and syrup and are absolutely loaded with vitamin C. Many of you probably get some rose hip concoction at your health food counter and take by mouth in the form of a pill.
Old garden roses, species roses and hybrid rugosa roses produce hips in prolific quantities. The hybrid rugosas that have been evaluated for two years at the Experiment Station are Roselina, Snow Owl, Yankee Lady and Buffalo Gal.
Roselina has 3-inch, pink, single-petaled blooms with bright yellow stamens. It forms a three- to four-foot bush. Buffalo Gal, Yankee Lady and Snow Owl have good fragrances. Buffalo Gal is a lavender-pink with more petals but also about 3-inches wide. Yankee Lady has blooms reaching 3 1/2-inch flowers that are a deep pink. As you might guess, Snow Owl is white. Two other rugosas easy to find at your garden centers are F.J. Grootendorst and Hansa.
Like any other plant that sets fruit, the rose's energy goes into fruit production and development and less on subsequent blooms. Fortunately, a bush loaded with fruit is as pretty as a holly with berries.
One rose that endeared itself to me while I was executive director of the American Rose Society is called the eglantine rose, or sweet brier rose. Long known botanically as Rosa eglanteria, the official botanical nomenclature is now Rosa rubiginos for this native of Europe.
The thing I like best about this rose is its fragrance, not the scent of the flowers but the aroma of the leaves. The leaves when touched or crushed and on humid days give off the wonderful smell of fresh crushed apples. The rose blooms themselves are pink and rather wild looking, but what follows is most impressive. It produces pounds of fruit ready for picking for homemade jam.
Here is a popular jam recipe if you would like to eat your hips in jam on some homemade bread or toast:
- Rose Hip Jam
- One pint clean and juicy rose hips
- One pint water
- Two Jonathan apples
- Two and one-fourth cups sugar
- Two tablespoons lemon juice
Wash the rose hips well, especially if you have been using fungicides or insecticides. Cook the rose hips and apples in the water until very tender and falling apart. Puree the resulting mixture by pressing through a colander. This will remove seeds and larger particles. Force through a sieve to remove smaller particles. Add sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a rolling boil for 10 to 15 minutes, until the jam thickens. Pour immediately into hot, sterile jars. Let cool and seal each jar with a lid. This recipe makes about 16 ounces.