Originally from East Asia, arriving in the West at the end of the 18th century, the Rugosa rose, also known as Japanese rose and Kamchatka rose, is a wild rose. It bears an interesting fruit, the edible rosehip, rich in vitamin C.
Not too demanding, easy to grow, and also very rustic, disease-resistant, and quite fragrant, gardeners find the Rugosa rose very appealing for its many qualities. In addition, it’s one of the few wild roses that are repeat-blooming!
→ Read also: the wild rose native to Europe
Rugosa Rose key facts
Name: Rosa rugosa
Common: Rugosa rose, Japanese rose, Kamchatka rose
Origin: China, Japan, Korea
Height: 3 to 6 feet (depending on variety) (1 to 2 m)
Flowering: May to October-November
Flower color: red, pink, white
Planting: spring and autumn
Hardiness: 5°F and higher (-15°C and higher)
Soil: rich and drained
Use: flowering or defensive hedge
Rugosa rose, a short description
Its dense and shiny foliage consists of waffled and rough leaves, hence the species name.
Flowering starts in May, displaying simple and fragrant roses, ranging from white to red. Nestled in its cup-shaped petals is a bouquet of yellow stamens.
Rose hips of Rugosa hose
Rugosa Rose bears fruit in the fall. It then produces rose hips, large fleshy and almost round berries, that transition from Granny Smith green to pale orange, then to orange-red and to red when ripe.
- Vitamin C (20 times more concentrated than citrus fruits);
- Vitamin B;
- Carotene (provitamin A);
Acidic and astringent, people rarely eat them raw. However, you can cook them with sugar. Harvest the fruits once they’ve overripe, after one or two freezes. You can then prepare them into syrups, jellies, marmalade and jams, ketchup sauces, or even soups. The Rosa rugosa rose hip soup is actually part of ancestral Swedish culinary traditions.
Rough rose varieties we find appealing
Rosa rugosa ‘Rubra’
One of the sturdiest! With deep red, perfumed flowers and orange rose hips, it leaves quite an impression.
Rosa rugosa ‘Alba’
A beauty with white flowers and big round red fruit. Grafting gets you this variety, and it won’t sucker, which makes pruning much easier.
Rosa rugosa ‘Scabrosa’
This selection, a result of grafting, boasts wrinkled foliage and orange-red rose hips.
Rosa rugosa ‘Adam Chodun’
A Polish creation by the rose gardener of Chodun in Poznan, presenting large, double, magenta pink flowers.
Rosa rugosa ‘Belle Poitevine’
A cross with the ‘Mme Alfred Carrière’ brought this variety to life – large semi-double flowers in magenta pink and orange fruits.
Cultivating rough rose
This plant originally hailed from the Far East, thriving on coasts and even in dunes, wild and free. In Europe and in the Americas, it’s somewhat of an invasive weed that colonizes oceanic coastlines. But, in gardens, it’s a restful beauty for sore eyes – a real decorative showpiece, be it part of a prickly defensive hedge or a blooming, fruiting one.
Plant it in fall or spring, avoiding periods of frost. A sunny spot and a well-draining, somewhat cool soil – that’s all it asks for. Richer soil, however, really brings out its blooming. Overall quite a cinch to care for – just chop off old or damaged branches in March.
This rough rose makes propagation easy with its offshoots, perfect for replanting. It also easily self-seeds (rose hips contain a plethora of seeds) and you can try your hand at cuttings.