Dog rose

Rose in flower (Rosa canina)
The Dog Rose is the most common Wild Rose in the British Isles. It grows in most hedgerows and have aromatic edible flowers and juicy fruits that are high in vitamin C.

Table of Contents

Dog Rose: Plant profile

Common names

Dog Rose, Wild Rose, Common Briar Rose, Brier, Feirdhris

Botanical name

Rosa canina

Plant family

Rosaceae (Rose)


Native to Europe, northwest Africa, and western Asia. Naturalised elsewhere. Common throughout the UK and Ireland.

Where to find Dog Rose

Hedgerow, scrubland, woodland and gardens.

When to find Dog Rose

Pick flowers early summer to early autumn and fruit mid-autumn to early winter.

How to identify Dog Rose

Dog Rose is a deciduous shrub with long scrambling branches and arching, thorny stems. The leaves are alternate and pinnate with 3-9 serrated leaflets. The flowers are white to pink and have 5 petals. The fruits are the rosehips, which are oval, glossy skinned and orange to red in colour.

Dog Rose lookalikes

There are a number of different Roses (Rosa sp.) growing in the wild, such as Field Rose (Rosa arvensis) and Japanese Rose (Rosa rugosa). It can be difficult to tell the difference between various species, but there’s no risk of confusing them with something toxic and all roses are edible.

Rose in flower (Rosa canina)

All about Dog Rose

The first rose blossoms herald the approaching summer in the British and Irish countryside. Those bright and delicate flowers, noted for attracting wildlife, will be followed by striking rosehips later in autumn.

The origin of the name has long been disputed. Dog rose root was allegedly used to treat bites from rabid dogs back in ancient times. However it’s most likely the name of this plant derived from ‘dag rose’, alluding to the dagger-like thorns.

Dog rose uses those sharp curved spines to help the plant climbing in between other shrubs, using them to support its growth.

Medicinal properties of Dog Rose

Rosehips are conveniently packed with vitamin C, containing much more than you find in oranges and blackcurrants. During II World War due to a shortage of citrus fruits, the British government encouraged the picking of rosehips to make nutritive syrup issued as a dietary supplement.

Rosehips are taken internally in the treatment of colds, influenza and other minor diseases.

Culinary uses and recipes with Dog Rose

The taste of rose petals is reminiscent of Middle Eastern cuisine, but it’s a bit weaker in flavour and aroma than selected varieties. Nonetheless, you can still infuse Rose petals in water to use in desserts such as Turkish delight.

The flowers also make a nutritive syrup and a soothing herbal tea. Add to salads or preserve in vinegar or honey.

Rosehips on the other hand, can be baked into tarts and pies and are usually preserved into syrup, jam and jelly. You can also make tea, country wine and infused liqueurs.

Rosehips in a rose bush (Rosa canina)

Safe foraging of Dog Rose

The rosehips contain a layer of tiny hairs around the seeds, just beneath the flesh of the fruit. These hairs irritate the skin, as well as the mouth and digestive tract if ingested. Take care to remove these when preparing rosehips.

Ecological importance of Dog Rose

Dog Rose provides a food source for pollinating insects, such as bees and aphids.

The rosehips are eaten by birds and small mammals, such as bank voles.

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Alvaro Docio

Alvaro Docio

I am the person behind British Local Food. As a forager and wild food educator, my aim is to inspire you to go outdoors, familiarise with your local plants and make the best of their culinary and medicinal properties, in the hope you'd pass on any knowledge gained down to the next generation.

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1 thought on “Dog rose”

  1. There is a book that comes up, Is Foraging Legal In Britain? Kinda reminiscent of not being allowed to hunt the king’s deer.


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