Dog rose is a beautiful addition to a hedge; a rambling shrub growing up to 3-4 metres tall, with large white to pink lightly scented flowers, and clusters of bright scarlet fruit called rose hips in the autumn. It has hooked thorns on stems, which are part of its success as a climber.
Dog rose is the most common of our wild roses, although most abundant in southern England. It is a good coloniser of disturbed sites, like its relative bramble
History and use
Rosa canina was first recorded botanically by William Turner in 1538.1. It is well known to country people and Vickery2. records over 60 local names for the plant and its fruit, including brimmle, buckle-brier, dog brier, horse-bramble, pig's nose, brandy bottles and pixy-pears. The hairs inside the hips were used by horrible school children as itching-powder, sometimes called buckie-lice or tickling-tommy.
The flesh of rose hips is sweet and flavoursome, and can be used to make jams, jellies and cordial. In the second world war the vitamin C-rich hips were collected by children and processed into rose hip syrup as a food supplement.2.
The blooms in May and June attract pollinating insects and moths such as the barred yellow Cidaria fulvata
. A large number of small beetles, aphids, sawflies and moths feed on dog rose, including the small eggar moth Eriogaster lanestris
and the beautiful red-green carpet moth Chloroclysta siterata
One very characteristic insect is the tiny bedeguar gall wasp Diplolepis rosae
. The gall it produces is commonly known as robin’s pincushion or moss gall.
The brilliant red hips attract blackbirds and other berry-eating birds, as well as small mammals such as woodmice that eat the fruits that have fallen to the ground.
Other native wild rose species
The genus Rosa is botanically complicated and species interbreed and are hard to distinguish, Pearman1. notes twelve British species. These two are common: