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Wild roses

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Wild roses, species roses, are part of the ROSACEAE family of nearly 150 species that native to Asia, Europe, North Africa and North America. They are semi-evergreen or deciduous shrubs or perennial climbers. They usually have thorny stems and erect, arching, climbing or trailing growth habits. They have single, 5-petaled, fragrant flowers from spring to early summer.

Dog rose, Rosa canina, is a climbing perennial growing to twelve feet. It has curved thorns and 2- 3 pairs of toothed leaflets. The flowers are pink or white, and the hips are scarlet. Native to Europe, temperate Asia and North Africa, it’s found in shrubs, woods and open fields. During the Middle Ages, people ate the vitamin-rich hips like candy and made a thirst-quenching drink called rose hip syrup for their children. The hips were used medicinally for several health problems.

Rosa gallica is a shrub rose from Pre-historic Ages that grows to five feet and is native to Persia, but it’s no longer found in the wild. It has sharp thorns, and the smooth stem has 2-3 pairs of serrated leaves and semi-double pink or red flowers. The rose hips are scarlet red.

In the 6th Century B.C., Greek Poet Sappho called Rosa gallica the ‘queen of flowers’. Romans used it in festivals and added the petals to their food. A physician named Avicenna (980-1037 A.D.) used it to make rosewater. During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, it was used to cure depression. The essential oil, attar of rose, is used in aromatherapy. The medicinal use of this rose oil requires medical supervision.

Varieties of wild roses are easy to grow in a Chicago garden. They require little care. Prune wild roses that bloom only once after flowering. Prune roses that bloom more often in the dormant season.



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