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Rugosa rose: a hardy and fragrant wild rose

Rough rose, rosa rugosa

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
Family: Rosaceae
Origin: China, Japan, Korea

Height: 3 to 6 feet (depending on variety) (1 to 2 m)
Form: bushy
Flowering: May to October-November
Repeat-blooming: yes
Flower color: red, pink, white

Planting: spring and autumn
Exposure: sunny
Hardiness: 5°F and higher (-15°C and higher)
Soil: rich and drained
Use: flowering or defensive hedge

Rugosa rose, a short description

Rough rose plantingRugosa Rose is a bushy, compact shrub with a medium development that can reach between 3 and 6 feet maximum height (1 to 2 m). A highly branched species, its stems are covered with numerous prickles.

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 rosehip edibleRugosa 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.

Favored by certain bird species and small mammals, the Rose Hips of Japanese Rose are decorative, and also edible! Their acidic and sweet flesh is very rich in:

  • Vitamin C (20 times more concentrated than citrus fruits);
  • Vitamin B;
  • Carotene (provitamin A);
  • Minerals.

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

Rugosa rose careThis 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.

Images: Pixabay: Jan Haerer, Светлана Гурьева

Written by Solenne Ricard | An art graduate who is passionate about botany, Solenne elects to channel her acute connection to the environment through gardening and writing about plants. From patch to plate, this lover of good food relies on permaculture and her own harvests to prepare healthy, organic meals for her family – every day! Expert writer, avid reader of great literary works, and awestruck by all things beautiful, she also whips out her easel at every chance.
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