PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Rugosa Rose (Rosa rugosa)

Want a rose that doesn’t test your patience or your gardening skills? Rosa rugosa is there for you.

It is native to Japan, Korea, China, and Siberia, naturalized in parts of North America but not invasive. Around Western Washington it is used in mass plantings along highway verges and medians, especially along I-5. These plants are tough as nails. In late spring for a month or more, swarms of large, flat purplish pink blooms help make the unpleasant traffic madness more enjoyable.

At home, Rosa rugosa is a gorgeous shrub growing to 4-6 feet with strongly textured dark green leaves. You can catch the classic scent wafting from ten feet away. It’s the kind of scent that makes you want to just stand there for an hour, flower jammed up to your nose, breathing deeply, and smiling. It’s prickly, so let it be a background shrub. It also makes a great exclusionary screening plant, as in, against the house under a window for security.

The fruits are called ‘Hips’. Rugosa Rose produces some of the largest, tastiest, and most nutritious hips of any rose. They have been used in cooking and for tea for millennia. They’re extremely high in vitamin C, other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Flavor is tart and fruity. There’s not much meat so they are usually cooked and strained to make jelly or sauce. For tea, fresh or dried, just pour hot water over them. The flowers are especially useful for improving circulation and as a heart tonic.