Foraging Wild Fruit: Rambler Rose

Photo of Rambler Rose patch

Rambler Rose (Rosa multiflora) -- also known as Multiflora Rose -- is an Asian native now common throughout much of New England. This wild rose grows in a variety of habitats, including old fields, roadsides, and along waterways, and can create tangled thickets.

The hips of Rambler Rose are petite compared with the plump and pulpy fruit of Beach Rose (R. rugosa), another Asian native. But according to Deane, they're nonetheless edible and loaded with vitamins. Having never tried Rambler Rose hips before, I decided to make tea using a palmful of hips (roughly 50). I put them in a jar, covered them with a cup of boiling water, and mashed them up. After steeping for 5 minutes, I strained out the seeds* and other solids, leaving behind a pink-tinged drink. I thought it tasted okay, but Jenny said it was distastefully bitter.

Two days later, I tried again, this time removing the seeds before brewing. Since the hips are mostly seed, the process resulted in a paltry amount of red flesh, which I nevertheless used to make a second, small cup of tea. Both Jenny and I enjoyed this seedless experimental brew. So, while roses with larger hips may prove easier to process, Rambler Rose hip tea is an option. (To see the following photos in full-size, click here.)

Note: Once established, Rambler Rose can be difficult to remove, so I recommend discarding the seeds mindfully, lest you spread this plant to new locales. I return seeds to the harvest site, when possible, or donate to another already established patch. That said, various birds, including Purple Finches, Northern Mockingbirds, and Cedar Waxwings will continue to eat the fruits and scatter the seeds across the landscape.

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