Wild rose species are all related to the roses you might plant in your garden. In fact, domesticated roses are descended from wild varieties. There are a number of wild rose species in the Ozarks. Two that we find often are the Carolina Rose and the Japanese Rose (also called Multiflora Rose).
Wild Rose Habitat
You can find wild rose growing along stream banks, roads, railroads, pasture edges, forest edges, and disturbed ground. They can be found in both dry and wet areas. It seems they can grow almost anywhere.
I find them growing along streams and back roads. They start blooming in May and June, and may only bloom for a few weeks once they begin to bloom. They produce fruit in late summer known as rose hips.
They can spread and grow in thick tangles that birds find perfect as nesting sites. Bees and hummingbirds enjoy the fragrant flowers. The hips provide food for birds and animals during the winter.
Wild Rose Uses
You can use wild rose in the same way cultivated roses are used. Many commercial skincare preparations contain the essential oil or rose water obtained from commercial operations. You can create your own skincare preparations at home for a fraction of the cost. You’ll just have to get out and smell the roses!
The flowers and leaves have anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, astringent, antiseptic, and aphrodisiac properties. This makes an extract from them great for your skin. You could create a skin-loving oil by placing the leaves and flowers into a jar and covering them with a light oil like grapeseed oil. The infused oil can be used like it is, or you could make a skin balm by adding beeswax.
It is useful for minor scrapes and skin irritations, moisturizing, cooling a sunburn, and many other uses. It may even help to reduce fine lines and wrinkles by helping to moisturize the skin, while the astringent properties help tighten the skin.
You can also do a glycerin extraction using plant glycerin. Replace the carrier oil from the oil extraction method with glycerin. Place the flowers and leaves in a jar and pour glycerin over them to completely cover them. Place it in a dark cupboard for 30-60 days. The longer you let it steep the more plant constituents you will be able to extract. This is the process for making what is known as a glycerite.
The leaves and flowers of wild rose are edible. They can be eaten raw or boiled. You can add them to salads or use them as a potherb. The hips can be eaten and can be gathered when they mature in late summer to early fall. The outer shell is high in vitamin C. It is not recommended to eat the seeds or the inner fruit. There are fine hairs that can be irritating to the throat. If you cook rose hips or use them to make tea be sure and strain them to prevent any irritation.
They have many other uses as well. Some people make rose jelly that is surprisingly tasty. They are also used to make jams, as well their use in baked treats.
Wild rose is prolific in many areas of the Ozarks. They can be used medicinally, especially for the skin, and are also edible raw or cooked. If you decide to harvest wild rose to use please be sure and harvest sustainably from areas away from roads or areas treated with chemicals. Always be sure you are 100% confident of your identification before attempting to consume any wild plant. If you aren’t sure, get a good field guide or an experienced forager to help you. When in doubt, spit it out!