The rose may be our favorite flower. We admire its many shapes and colors ranging from pure white to the deepest shades. Even blue which for some reason does not appeal to me. But did you know that roses have also been used as food, as drink and even medicine? Sharon Brown has come up with some fascinating information about the origins and uses of the rose over the centuries.

There is nothing quite as beautiful as the rose. Throughout its long history it has not only been admired, sniffed, and coveted, but it has also been used as food, as drink, and as medicine. Isn’t it interesting how endearing and enduring the rose really is?

“Won’t you come into the garden,” said Richard Sheridan, “I would like my roses to see you.” (1751-1816)

I spent my childhood drifting from one flower to another. My older relatives, the ones who had the greatest influence on my life, believed all plants were used for food or medicine and only rarely were they appreciated for their beauty. I was caught between my mother’s love for their beauty and my Granny Ninna and great Aunt Bett’s appreciation for the food and medicine they provided. I spent my childhood in a quandary!
I loved to decorate, to create things, to color my world, so I picked flowers for their beauty, and I used their petals and leaves for dyes. I wove flowers into my hair, and dressed in clothes that were painted with dyes. And of course we must never forget the streaks of color that ran through my hair. The rose was different. In my world, we used the rose only for its beauty in a bouquet, as a corsage, or blooming merrily in my mother’s front yard. No one ever thought to use it for anything else.
It is a good thing that Aunt Bett didn’t know about the ancient uses of roses for food and medicine. In those ancient days rose petals, which have tannin, were used as an astringent to control bleeding. They were also made into an infusion to treat stomach disorders. Rose oil and rose water were used in China for stomach problems. It seems that the Rosa Gallica was the most superior rose for medicinal uses. In liquid form it was used as a tonic, in powder form it strengthened the stomach and aided digestion. A conserve was considered excellent for treatment of colds.Image
I remember the first time I ever noticed rose hips. I thought they looked like tiny orange apples and wondered how they tasted. I don’t remember if I tried them or not, I probably did, but I do know now that rose hips are indeed edible. They are very high in vitamin C and you will often see them listed as the main source of vitamin C in many commercially available vitamins.

Read more: Dave’s Garden
Image source: Chris Sorge

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