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Rosa canina

Rosa canina, Photo: Michael Lahanas

Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Divisio: Magnoliophyta
Classis: Magnoliopsida
Ordo: Rosales
Familia: Rosaceae
Subfamilia: Rosoideae
Tribus: Roseae
Genus: Rosa
Species: Rosa canina

Vernacular names
Deutsch: Hunds-Rose

Rosa canina


Rosa canina (lit. Dog Rose) is a variable scrambling rose species native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia.

It is a deciduous shrub normally ranging in height from 1-5 m, though sometimes it can scramble higher into the crowns of taller trees. Its stems are covered with small, sharp, hooked spines, which aid it in climbing. The leaves are pinnate, with 5-7 leaflets. The flowers are usually pale pink, but can vary between a deep pink and white. They are 4-6 cm diameter with five petals, and mature into an oval 1.5-2 cm red-orange fruit, or hip.

Cultivation and uses

The plant is high in certain antioxidants. The fruit is noted for its high vitamin C level and is used to make syrup, tea and marmalade. It has been grown or encouraged in the wild for the production of vitamin C, from its fruit (often as rose-hip syrup), especially during conditions of scarcity or during wartime. The species has also been introduced to other temperate latitudes. During World War II in the United States Rosa canina was planted in victory gardens, and can still be found growing throughout the United States, including roadsides, and in wet, sandy areas up and down coastlines.

During the Vietnam War, for soldiers fighting with the North, Rosa canina was dried and then smoked with tobacco to produce mild hallucinogenic effects and abnormal dreams.[1]

Forms of this plant are sometimes used as stocks for the grafting or budding of cultivated varieties. The wild plant is planted as a nurse or cover crop, or stabilising plant in land reclamation and specialised landscaping schemes.

Numerous cultivars have been named, though few are common in cultivation. The cultivar Rosa canina 'Assisiensis' is the only dog rose without thorns. The hips are used as a flavouring in the Slovenian soft drink Cockta.

Canina meiosis

The dog roses, the Canina section of the genus Rosa (20-30 species and subspecies, which occur mostly in Northern and Central Europe), have a unique kind of meiosis. Regardless of ploidy level, only seven bivalents are formed leaving the other chromosomes as univalents. Univalents are included in egg cells, but not in pollen[2]. Dogroses are most commonly pentaploid, i.e. five times the base number of seven chromosomes for the genus Rosa, but may be tetraploid or hexaploid as well.


The name 'dog' has a disparaging meaning in this context, indicating 'worthless' (by comparison with cultivated garden roses) (Vedel & Lange 1960). It was used in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to treat the bite of rabid dogs, hence the name "dog rose" arose.[3] (It is also possible that the name derives from "dag," a shortening of "dagger," in reference to the long thorns of the plant.) This other derivation is quite improbable however, because the latin name "Rosa canina" also means "dog rose" or "rose of the dogs". Other old folk names include rose briar (also spelt brier), briar rose, dogberry, herb patience , sweet briar, wild briar, witches' briar, and briar hip.

* In Turkish, its name is kuşburnu, which translates as "bird nose."
* In Swedish, its name is stenros, which translates to "stone rose."
* In Norwegian, its name is steinnype, which translates to "stone hip."
* In Danish, its name is hunderose, which translates as "dog rose."
* In Azeri, its name is itburunu, which translates as "dog nose."
* In Russian, its name is шиповник (translit: 'shipovnik'), which translates as "thorn bearer."
* In Bulgarian, its name is шипка (translit: 'shipka')

Invasive species

Dog rose is an invasive species in the high country of New Zealand. It was recognised as displacing native vegetation as early as 1895[4] although the Department of Conservation do not consider it to be a conservation threat.[5]

Dog rose in culture

The dog rose was the stylized rose of Medieval European heraldry, and is still used today . It is also the county flower of Hampshire.


1. ^ Ninh, Bao (1995). The Sorrow of War. Pantheon Books. ISBN 1-57322-543-6.
2. ^ Täckholm, Gunnar (1922) Zytologische Studien über die Gattung Rosa. Acta Horti Bergiani 7, 97-381.
3. ^ Howard, Michael. Traditional Folk Remedies (Century, 1987); p133
4. ^ Kirk, T (1895). "The Displacement of Species in New Zealand". Transactions of the New Zealand Institute 1895 (Wellington: Royal Society of New Zealand) 28. http://rsnz.natlib.govt.nz/volume/rsnz_28/rsnz_28_00_000440.html. Retrieved 2009-04-17.
5. ^ Owen, S. J. (1997). Ecological weeds on conservation land in New Zealand: a database. Wellington: Department of Conservation.

Further reading

* Flora Europaea: Rosa canina
* Blamey, M. & Grey-Wilson, C. (1989). Flora of Britain and Northern Europe. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-40170-2.
* Vedel, H. & Lange, J. (1960). Trees and bushes. Metheun, London.
* Graham G.S. & Primavesi A.L. (1993). Roses of Great Britain and Ireland. B.S.B.I. Handbook No. 7. Botanical Society of the British Isles, London.

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Source: Wikispecies, Wikipedia: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License