Wild Roses: Grow and Eat Them

Wild roses always have five petals—no more, no less—and while most are pink, some are white, yellow or red.

by Martok
The type of wild roses on Martok's farm are Prarie Roses. Photo by Sue Weaver (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Sue Weaver
The variety of wild roses on our farm are called Prarie Roses.

Are there wild roses growing on your farm? Not Multiflora Roses or naturalized old-fashioned roses but true five-petaled wild roses?

Wild roses always have five petals—no more, no less—and while most are pink, some are white, yellow or red. A few wild roses are climbers, but most form low shrubs. Nearly all of them have sharp, prickly stickers.

More than 100 kinds of wild roses grow around the world, and many are native to North America. The one in the picture is a Prairie Rose. It’s growing at the base of our mailbox. Prairie Roses are native to a huge part of central North America, from the Appalachians to the Rocky Mountains and from Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan southward toward New Mexico, Texas and Indiana. This rose’s Latin name is Rosa arkansana, but it isn’t named for the state I live in; it’s named for the Arkansas River in Colorado. The Prairie Rose is the state flower of Iowa and North Dakota. If you have wild roses on your farm, this might be the one you’ll find.

Other wild roses include the Carolina Rose and the Virginia Rose, both of which are common on the East Coast; the Meadow Rose of the central United States; Wood’s Wild Rose in the Rocky Mountains; and the Nootka Rose that grows from Alaska to California along the Pacific Coast.

You can grow wild roses in your garden, if you like, by buying a nursery plant, or you can transplant one the way we talked about in my blog post about old-fashioned roses. A good thing is that wild roses gorgeous when they bloom. A bad thing: They only bloom for about two weeks in early summer. However, once planted, wild roses are super-hardy, bug-resistant and they require little care. Don’t you think you need a few in your garden?

Wild rose petals are good to eat, not just for us goats but for humans, too. They’re tasty added to salads, sandwich spreads and omelets. Yum! You can also steep rose petals to make tasty tea. Or add them to a foot soak.

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Pick wild roses at the peak of bloom, early in the day. Grasp the flower by the stem, and pull off all the petals at once. To prepare the rose petals, pinch off the white part of the petal near its stem end—that part is usually bitter. Then place the petals in a colander, and rinse them in warm water. Lay the petals on paper towels to dry, or pat them dry with a towel. Be careful, petals bruise very easily! To brew a delicate tea, place 15 flower petals in a 10-ounce mug and fill it with boiling water. Remove the petals after four minutes and drink this tea hot or cold.

Most wild roses also grow edible fruits called rose hips or haws. I’ll tell you more about those next week!

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