The Wild Rose (Rosa woodsii), aka Woods’ Rose, is a common sight in Colorado. Its large, fragrant blooms can be spotted in various shades of pink along roads and trails from the foothills to the sub-alpine zone. Wild Rose bushes often form dense, impenetrable thickets.
The Wild Rose is a particularly important source of food for livestock and wildlife during spring and summer.
Most parts of the Wild Rose plant are edible but probably the most commonly used part is the rose hips. I would venture to guess that most people think that rose hips are the fruit of the rose. In actuality, the fruits are the seed-like things (achenes) inside the rose hip. Rose hips are rich in Vitamin C (plus a whole bunch of other nutrients) and actually contain a higher concentration of Vitamin C than oranges! They can be used to make jam, jelly, tea, soups, wine, and syrups. Rose hips are best gathered in the late fall, after a frost, which softens them and increases the sugar content. THIS WEBSITE has a bunch of rose hip recipes (although it mistakenly refers to rose hips as the fruit and the achenes as the seeds). It’s not advisable to eat whole, raw rose hips because the achenes are covered in sliver-like hairs that are not kind to the digestive system.
The Wild Rose is not only very useful as a food source, it has an impressive list of medicinal uses as well. The various parts have been used in various forms to treat such ailments as upset stomach, snow-blindness, tonsillitis, colic, heartburn, headaches, earaches, toothaches and sore muscles.