Herb: Western Wild Rose

Latin name: Rosa woodsii

Family: Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Medicinal use of Western Wild Rose:

The seeds have been used as a poultice to produce a drawing effect for treating muscular pains. An infusion of the leaves has been used as a spring tonic. A poultice of the chewed leaves has been used to allay the pain of bee stings. The leaves have been placed in the shoes as a protection from athletes foot. The roots are blood tonic and diuretic. A decoction of the roots has been used by adults and children in the treatment of diarrhoea and intestinal influenza. A decoction of the root or inner bark has been used in the treatment of colds. An infusion of the fruits has been used in the treatment of coughs. Various parts of the plant have been used to make poultices to apply to burns, sores, cuts, swellings and wounds. A decoction of the branches, combined with chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) and red willow (Salix bonplandiana), has been used in the treatment of various women's complaints, diarrhoea and vomiting. The fruit of many members of this genus is a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, especially in vitamins A, C and E, flavanoids and other bio-active compounds. It is also a fairly good source of essential fatty acids, which is fairly unusual for a fruit. It is being investigated as a food that is capable of reducing the incidence of cancer and also as a means of halting or reversing the growth of cancers.

Description of the plant:


2 m
(6 1/2 foot)

to July

Habitat of the herb:

Moist soils of draws, hillsides, along streams and in open valleys. It often forms thickets in open positions.

Edible parts of Western Wild Rose:

Fruit - raw or cooked. They are used in making jams, jellies etc. The taste and texture are best after a frost. The fruit can also be dried and used to make a pleasant tasting fruity-flavoured tea. The fruit is up to 15mm in diameter, but there is only a thin layer of flesh surrounding the many seeds. Some care has to be taken when eating this fruit, see the notes above on known hazards. Young shoots - raw. Harvested whilst still tender in the spring, they are best peeled. Petals - raw. Remove the bitter white base. The seed is a good source of vitamin E, it can be ground into a powder and mixed with flour or added to other foods as a supplement. Be sure to remove the seed hairs. The bark, young shoots, leaves and fruit have all been used to make tea-like beverages.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed. Rose seed often takes two years to germinate. This is because it may need a warm spell of weather after a cold spell in order to mature the embryo and reduce the seedcoat. One possible way to reduce this time is to scarify the seed and then place it for 2 - 3 weeks in damp peat at a temperature of 27 - 32C (by which time the seed should have imbibed). It is then kept at 3C for the next 4 months by which time it should be starting to germinate. Alternatively, it is possible that seed harvested "green" (when it is fully developed but before it has dried on the plant) and sown immediately will germinate in the late winter. This method has not as yet(1988) been fully tested. Seed sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame sometimes germinates in spring though it may take 18 months. Stored seed can be sown as early in the year as possible and stratified for 6 weeks at 5C. It may take 2 years to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Plant out in the summer if the plants are more than 25cm tall, otherwise grow on in a cold frame for the winter and plant out in late spring. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July in a shaded frame. Overwinter the plants in the frame and plant out in late spring. High percentage. Cuttings of mature wood of the current seasons growth. Select pencil thick shoots in early autumn that are about 20 - 25cm long and plant them in a sheltered position outdoors or in a cold frame. The cuttings can take 12 months to establish but a high percentage of them normally succeed. Division of suckers in the dormant season. Plant them out direct into their permanent positions. Layering. Takes 12 months.

Cultivation of Western Wild Rose:

Moist soils of draws, hillsides, along streams and in open valleys. It often forms thickets in open positions.

Known hazards of Rosa woodsii:

There is a layer of hairs around the seeds just beneath the flesh of the fruit. These hairs can cause irritation to the mouth and digestive tract if ingested.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.