It is at this time of year we get to appreciate the wonderful hips that adorn many roses.The hips (also known as heps or haws) are the fruit of the rose and consist of a fleshy wall encasing the achenes (seeds). They are highly attractive to birds which serve as a useful means of their dispersal.
Whilst most roses are grown primarily for the beauty and fragrance of their flowers the hips of many are highly ornamental in their own right and provide an added bonus during the autumn. Remember that if you want hips do not dead head your roses after flowering.That said some of the best hip bearers are once flowering varieties so dead heading would provide no benefit in such roses.
The size, shape and colour of hips varies enormously and depends on the variety, so here are a few of the best:
Rosa roxburghii– also known as the Chestnut rose as the hips resemble miniature horse chestnut fruit,staying green and covered with prickles. Another prickly hipped variety is Rosa stellata Mirifica.
Rosa moyesii and its variants ‘Geranium’ and ‘Sealing Wax’ all carry large, red flaggon shaped hips that dangle like lanterns.
Rugosa roses, especially Fru Dagmar Hastrup and Scabrosa bear large round fruit the size of cherry tomatoes that often coincide with the later blooms.To me the flesh makes fine eating with a tart apple fragrance as long as you can avoid the mass of seeds within.
Many of the single flowered ramblers are massive hip bearers,Kiftsgate, Rosa helenae, Rosa longicuspis all produce large heads of tiny round red hips.
Rose hips contain large quantities of both vitamin C and vitamin A along with many minerals such as potassium,calcium and magnesium. This makes the highly beneficial in many respects,they are high in antioxidants,can boost your immune system and are great for your skin.Hips can be dried and the used to make tea or the fresh fruit made into syrups or jelly.