The name "Rosa canina" is used indiscriminately both in the botanical nomenclature - indicating, respectively, the genus and the species - and, usually, in the common language. In the spoken language of some Italian regions, the wild rose is simply called "grattacu" or, still, wild rose, rose of the hedges, pink thorn, rosella, rose of spot, roses of the thorns and biancarosa.

The name "canina" has remote origins: in ancient times, in fact, the roots of this shrub were used in decoction as an effective remedy in the treatment of rabies.

In the language of flowers, the dog rose symbolizes both poetry and independence. It is even mentioned in the Bible: probably, Judas actually used the rosehip tree to commit suicide; still, the crown of thorns of Jesus was presumably made with the branches of this shrub.

General characters

Recently, the demand for wild rose has grown exponentially, especially in teas and herbal teas: its aroma - particular and sweet - modulates the taste of many other drugs less pleasant to taste, besides carrying out important medicinal virtues that we will analyze in detail during the course of the disquisition.

Dog rose is a very common shrub in the undergrowth and in ruderal places: in general, it is widespread in the European belt from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia, in central and western Asia, in the Canaries and in North Africa. In America, in New Zealand and in Oceania, dog rose has been introduced instead.

The seedling grows up to 1, 900 meters above sea level, and prefers limited arid areas, with muddy and deep soil.

Botanical description

The dog rose is a shrub belonging to the Rosaceae family: the woody plant does not generally exceed three meters in height.

Its stems are glabrous, hanging, arched, and dressed as deciduous leaves: these are oval or elliptical, imparipinnate and each composed of several leaflets (5-7), limited by an irregular and toothed margin. The branches are made up of sharp and robust spines, with a rather enlarged base.

The flowers bloom in spring, decorating the plant with small white spots: the scarlet flowers are single or grouped in threes, usually not exceeding 7 centimeters in diameter and are not very fragrant.

The fruits of dog rose are fleshy, wrapped in hairy sepals, dyed scarlet red: more precisely, we are talking about false fruits, whose full ripeness is reached in late autumn.

Phytotherapeutic importance and properties

From the most remote times, the wild rose is appreciated for the beauty of its flowers and for their delicate and delicate fragrance. In ancient times, the petals of the dog rose constituted the matrix to extract a precious oil.

Currently, the drug consists of:

  1. Dried ripe fruits ( fructus ), mistakenly called seeds
  2. Receptacles lacking both real fruit and a large part of the receptacle ( pseudofructus sine fructubus)
  3. Cinorridi ( pseudofructus ) or false mature fruit: more specifically, the drug consists of the thalamus of false fruits
  4. Roots (used for decoction)
  5. Leaves (teas and infusions)

The fruits contain tannins, nicotinic acid, carotenoids, vitamin C and P, riboflavin, malic and citric acid, flavonoids (bioflavonoids: phytoestrogens), pectins and carbohydrates. More in detail, the fruits are mines of tannins and ascorbic acid: the false mature fruits must contain 5% ascorbic acid which, after the drying process, drops to 1% following degradation.

Its richness in vitamin C was of great help at the time of war: the dog rose was used as a substitute for citrus fruits, precisely because of its huge content of ascorbic acid. Suffice it to say that an ideal orange of 100 grams provides approximately 50 mg of vitamin C: in equal quantities, the dog rose ensures over 2, 200 mg. [taken from the writings of Dr. Bianchi]

Due to the presence of tannins, the dog rose represents a good natural remedy against diarrhea; moreover, it is recommended in case of debilitation and inflammation. The drug is also considered a discrete vessel-protector.

Herbal teas, decoctions and infusions obtained with leaves, flowers or roots of rose hips are recommended in case of colds and infections, as well as being a mild decongestant and invigorating; the dog rose also has immunostimulating and antiallergic properties.

Dog rose is a good diuretic: by stimulating the elimination of toxins through urine, the drug is useful for combating inflammation of the bladder or kidneys.

The drug is also useful in cases of heavy menstruation, intestinal catarrh, hyperhidrosis, conjunctivitis and tissue fragility.

Rosehip seeds are used to make pesticides.

Even in cosmetics the dog rose is a plant widely used for the formulation of perfumed waters, anti-aging creams and wrinkles, soothing ointments against sunburn, face masks with toning, smoothing and astringent action.

For the treatment of sensitive, reddened and particularly delicate skins, we recommend applying compresses based on distilled rosehip water.

Rosa canina in brief »


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