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Wild Rose By Another Name Is Just As Sweet...

AKA: L. Family: Rosaceae, Rosa acicularis (just one of the many species), also known as, prickly wild rose, prickly rose, bristly rose, wild rose, or Arctic rose.

Propagation/Description: There are over 100 of these wild rose species worldwide, some native to North America, many from the Orient and Europe. These true wild roses are all single with exactly five petals — never more, and almost all of them are pink, with a few whites and reds, and even fewer that range toward yellow. (By the way, there are now over 20,000 hybrids, with about 200 new ones every year.) All roses turn into rose hips at some point after the bloom fades. To propagate the best way is to use stem cuttings or division of rootstock. Rose seeds should be taken from the hips as soon as ripe and planted in the open or stratified before planting. It is drought-tolerant and will grow in part shade and various soil types. It favors moist but not water-logged conditions.

Folklore/History: First came the wild roses (or species roses) which pre-date mankind, found in fossils to have existed as far back as 35 million years ago. They were first noted in cultivation in China 5,000 years ago and in the middle east at least 2,000 years ago. Our original national flower is another story. Nicknamed “Rose of America” during an expedition funded by French King Louis XVI, the wild rose produces fragrant clusters of about 15 flowers and rose hips with some of the highest concentrations of vitamin C of any fruit — potentially even higher than citrus. Along with about 18 other wild roses native to North America, it’s part of perhaps one of the world’s most important gene pools for rose gardeners and hybridizers. Some Native Americans reportedly boiled roots to make a solution that was used in compresses to reduce swelling, gargled to relieve sore throats or tonsillitis, drunk as a remedy for mouth bleeding, or inhaled as a vapor for nose bleeding. Some believed the leaves, flowers, and buds could be used for tea; petals could be eaten raw or used in perfume; buds and flowers could be used to make a solution for eyewash; hips used for jelly, syrup, jam, marmalade, and catsup or be dried and ground into a powder that was added to baked goods; green hips would be peeled and cooked; and young shoots cooked as a potherb. To Native Americans in many western tribes, wild roses were a symbol of life. Paiute, Nez Perce, and Interior Salish people believed that wild roses kept ghosts from causing harm to the living, so they were often placed in the homes or clothing of people who were in mourning or felt haunted. Wild roses were also sometimes attached to cradleboards to bring vitality to infants. In some tribes, rose motifs were used in quillwork, beadwork, or other Native arts to represent survival and vitality as well. In ancient Greek mythology, the wild rose is a powerful symbol of love and adoration, with strong ties to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty and love.

Medicinal: Rosa acicularis is rich in tannins and is used as an astringent. The roots are believed to assist as a cough remedy and an eye wash while the leaves and bark have been infused into eye drops to assist with snow blindness. The leaves have also been known, as a poultice of the chewed leaves, to be used to alleviate the pain of bee stings. A decoction of the stems and branches has been used as a blood tonic and as a treatment for stomach complaints (confirmed by a study done in 2020-21 and published in Nov. of 2021), colds and fevers while the fruit of many members of this genus is a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C and E, flavonoids and other bio-active compounds and a fairly good source of essential fatty acids, which is fairly unusual for a fruit. It is also used as a remedy to restore health after long-term illnesses. In early studies, the leaves showed the good Fe-reducing power and antioxidant potential of the extract in radical scavenging assays against free radicals such as DPPH, ABTS and superoxide anion, caused by the presence of phenolic compounds (126 mg/g), flavonoids (8 mg/g) and flavanols (1 mg/g) in the plant. Among flora, plants of the Rose genus are famous antidiabetic medicines with an inhibitory influence on digestive enzymes.

Spiritual: Christian folklore sees the red rose as a symbol of the suffering of Christ with the 5 petals of a rose symbolizing his 5 wounds. Muslim folklore sees the rose used as a way of catching a cheating spouse, as well as a story that the first rose came from a drop of sweat from Mohammed’s brow. Jewish folklore has the rose playing a central part in proving a woman’s innocence when she’s wrongly accused of a crime. Today, however, it is primarily used in love spells or workings, but it also enhances female intuition, assists in psychic work and dream work, provides protection (having a rose with thorns helps with this), gives luck, helps in the avoidance of conflict, aids in beauty works, helps give confidence, and aids in finding or telling truth by giving clarity of mind.

Summary: 'A rose by any other name would smell as sweet' by William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet is more than just a quote from a famous play. Roses, well known for their distinct and aromatic fragrance, bring so much joy to so many. The surprising thing about them is that they are more than beautiful and fragrant. I thought I would struggle to find beneficial properties beyond beauty, fragrance, and beauty products but…. WHOA!!! I found it more difficult to narrow down and limit the amount of information out there on this Queen of Flowers! This post would have taken days to read if I had included all the information about all the different species and sub-species of roses out there. So, I had to narrow it to the Wild Rose. While known as the Queen of flowers for its beauty and fragrance, it is the queen of medicinal and spiritual properties as well! What a wonderful surprise! Never again will I underestimate the simplicity of a flower again and you shouldn’t either. Welcome to this beginners look at the wonderful world of the Wild Rose!


Rosa acicularis Lindley ssp. sayi (Schwein.) W. H. Lewis Bristly, Needle-spine, or Prickly Rose by Alice Schori for New England Wild Flower Society found at

The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies, The Healing Power of Plant Medicine by Nicole Apelian, Ph.D & Claude Davis; Pgs. 264-266

The Magic of Flowers, A Guide to Their metaphysical Uses & Properties by Tess Whitehurst; Pgs. 310-315

Hedge Witch’s Field Guide by Siolo Thompson; Pgs. 130-133

Floriography, An Illustrated Guide to the Victorian Language of Flowers by Jessica Roux; Pg. 150

Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham; Pgs. 217-218

Plant Witchery, Discover the Sacred Language, Wisdom, and Magic of 200 Plants by Juliet Diaz; Pgs. 275-276

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