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 (IE), Rosa Silvestre (SP)

Botanical name

Rosa canina

Plant family

Rosaceae (Rose)


Native to Europe, northwest Africa, and western Asia, this species has also been successfully naturalised in other regions. It is particularly widespread and abundant in the UK and Ireland.

Where to find Dog Rose

The versatile dog rose (Rosa canina) thrives in a variety of habitats, including hedgerows, scrubland, woodlands, and even gardens.

When to find Dog Rose

Pick its fragrant flowers during the early summer, which continue to grace the landscape until the onset of autumn. As the season transitions, the plant rewards us with its charming rosehips, ripening from mid-autumn through early winter.

How to identify Dog Rose

The dog rose, a deciduous shrub, exhibits a distinctive growth pattern characterised by its long scrambling branches and gracefully arching, thorny stems. Its leaves are arranged alternately and are pinnate in structure, adorned with 3-9 serrated leaflets.

The plant blossoms enchanting white to pink flowers, each boasting five delicate petals. Later in the season, attention turns to its alluring fruits, the rosehips, which are oval-shaped, glossy-skinned, and varying in colour from vibrant orange to luscious red.

Dog Rose lookalikes

In the wild, one can find various Roses (Rosa sp.), including the Field Rose (Rosa arvensis) and the Japanese Rose (Rosa rugosa).

Even though different roses can be difficult to tell aparte one from each other. The genus is easy to identify, and one can rest assured that there is no risk of confusing them with anything toxic, as all roses are edible.

Rose in flower (Rosa canina)

All about Dog Rose

The origin of the rose’s name has sparked enduring debates. According to legend, the root of the dog rose was once employed as a remedy for bites inflicted by rabid dogs in ancient times.

However, it is more probable that the name “dog rose” originated from “dag rose,” referencing the dagger-like thorns adorning the plant.

Utilising its sharp and curved spines, the Dog Rose skilfully employs them to climb and support its growth amidst other shrubs. These formidable spines act as the plant’s allies, enabling it to weave its way through the surrounding vegetation.

Medicinal properties of Dog Rose

Rosehips are conveniently packed with vitamin C, containing much more than you find in oranges and blackcurrants.

In response to a scarcity of citrus fruits during World War II, the British government actively promoted the collection of rosehips for the purpose of producing nutritious syrup, which served as a valuable dietary supplement.

Rosehips are administered internally for the treatment of various minor ailments such as colds, influenza, and other common illnesses. Their medicinal properties make them a trusted remedy for combating these ailments and promoting overall wellness.

Culinary uses and recipes with Dog Rose

The flavour of rose petals evokes memories of Middle Eastern cuisine, albeit slightly milder in both taste and aroma compared to selected varieties. Infuse rose petals in water to add a delightful twist to desserts like Turkish delight.

Moreover, these blossoms possess versatile culinary applications. They can be transformed into syrup or brewed into herbal tea. Adding them to salads or preserving them in vinegar or honey brings a unique touch to culinary creations.

On the other hand, rosehips offer an equally enticing culinary potential. Indulge in the pleasure of baking them into mouth-watering tarts and pies, or experience their unique flavour by preserving them into delightful syrups, jams, and jellies.

For those seeking a distinct and refreshing experience, explore the option of infusing rosehips as a fragrant herbal tea, crafting your own homemade country wine, or even experimenting with infused liqueurs.

Rosehips in a rose bush (Rosa canina)

Safe foraging of Dog Rose

The rosehips contain a layer of tiny hairs encircling the seeds, nestled just beneath the fruit’s flesh. These hairs possess irritant properties, causing discomfort to the skin and potential irritation to the mouth and digestive tract if consumed.

When handling rosehips, exercise caution and ensure the thorough removal of these hairs during the preparation process.

Ecological importance of Dog Rose

The Dog Rose provides a valuable food source for vital pollinating insects, including bees and aphids, supporting their crucial role in the ecosystem.

Additionally, the rosehips produced by the plant serve as nourishment for birds such as blackbirds, redwings and wxwings and small mammals like bank voles.

Sustainable Dog Rose foraging

Roses are one of the most common wild plants found in the British Isles.

However, when collecting the flowers, it is important to avoid picking them all from a single bush. Be mindful and leave a sufficient number of flowers behind for the rosehips to develop later in the autumn.

Similarly, it is advisable to leave some rosehips for the wildlife to feed on.

Want to improve your foraging skills?

Join my newsletter to get a FREE ebook and receive plant profiles, seasonal reminders and foraging tips.

You agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy 

Picture of Alvaro // Wild Plant Guy

Alvaro // Wild Plant Guy

I am the human behind BritishLocalFood. 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.

Liked it? Share with friends!

2 thoughts 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.


Leave a comment