Dog-rose Rosa canina

Status Green - Least concern
Best Time to See June, July
Colour
Habitat Woodland, Grassland

"...with sweet musk-roses and with eglantine."

- William Shakespeare, "A Midsummer Night's Dream"

Description

The stylised rose of medieval heraldry. Known in Shakespeare's time as eglantine, what this native rose lacks in scent it makes up for in blushing beauty. Care should be taken, however, since eglantine also refers to Rosa rubiginosa.

It is the most abundant and widespread of wild rose species, and also the most variable. Its sweet-scented blooms can vary in colour from white to deep pink. Whilst usually about five metres in height, dog-rose can scramble to the tops of tall trees, like a rainforest vine.

An old riddle, 'The Five Brethren of the Rose', provides an effective way of identifying roses of the canina group:

On a summer's day, in sultry weather

Five Brethren were born together.

Two had beards and two had none

And the other had but half a one."

In this case the 'brethren' refers to the five sepals of the dog-rose, two of which are whiskered on both sides, two quite smooth and the last one whiskered on one side only.

Where it grows

Hedgerows.

Best time to see

June and July when it flowers.

Cultural information

  • The County Flower of Hampshire.
  • In the Language of Flowers it is said to symbolise pleasure and pain(!)

How's it doing?

Thought to be stable.

Did you know?

  • Rosehip syrup made from the dog-rose has four times the Vitamin C of blackcurrant juice and twenty times as much as orange juice.
  • It is emblem of the Scottish Rose clan.
  • Other names for it are wild rose, briar (refers to a prickly shrub), briar-rose, cat-rose, cock-bramble, dike-rose (i.e. hedge rose), hip-rose and pig-rose. Another vernacular is Ewemack.
  • The reddish-yellow rose bedeguar gall, moss gall or Robin's pincushion develops as a chemically-induced distortion of the unopened leaf axillary or terminal buds on dog rose shrubs and is caused by the gall wasp. These were powdered and a decoction of the powder used for medicinal purposes and particularly to break the stone, as a diuretic and for colic. English country people have also reportedly hung these bedeguars around their necks as amulets against whooping-cough.

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