Dog Rose

Dog rose (Rosa canina)

Dog rose is the familiar and most common wild rose. It is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to 3 metres or more in height, and can be recognised by its strong arching stems which have curved thorns. It can be found growing in woodland, hedgerows and scrubland throughout the UK.

There are two popular explanations as to how the dog rose gained its common name – the first of these is connected to the ancient belief that the root of the rose could cure the bite of a mad dog.The other explanation, which perhaps is the most likely, is that the dog-rose’s name has been altered over time from ‘dag rose’ – ‘dag’ referring to the dagger-like thorns.

In summer delicate 5-petalled pink or white flowers are produced.These ripen to red rose hips in autumn that are popular with birds.

The hips have a very high vitamin C content. In World War II the Ministry of Health and the County Herb Committees organised the gathering of the ripe fruit, which was then used
to produce a vitamin rich syrup taken to compensate for the lack of fresh fruit available.

Traditionally dog rose has been used for the treatment of exhaustion, stomach upsets, and a wide range of other ailments.The hips have been made into wine, jam, juice, syrup and tea.The flowers can be dried to make pot pourri and the oils extracted for perfume.The hairy seeds inside the rose hip have long been used by children as effective itching powder!

The dog rose is a food source for many insects. For example, the leaf stalks often appear to have cushions of red “moss” known as robin’s pin cushions.This is in fact made by the larvae of a gall-forming wasp.


In the past it was believed that fairies, by eating a rosehip and then turning anti-clockwise three times, could make themselves disappear.To become visible once more the fairies had to eat another rosehip and turn clockwise three times.