Missouri Girl Eats Weeds
Wed, 11/03/2021 - 3:23pm admin
Ann J. Hines, PhD
When Shakespeare penned the words, “What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” I’m sure he wasn’t thinking of multiflora rose. Ask any Missouri landowner, and they’ll tell you what a nuisance it is. It was originally introduced to the US from Asia in the late 1800s for use as a rootstock and promoted as a living fence, soil stabilizer and food and cover for wildlife, but turned out to be a hard-to-kill invasive. Although beautiful and useful for the above reasons, I personally spend an inordinate amount of time trying to rid my property of multiflora rose and its evil cohorts: autumn olive, cat briar, and poison ivy. I know it’s a losing battle, but I can’t help myself! But since we must live with these, we might as well enjoy their positive qualities.
We are supposed to get our first frost this week, (and snow is in the forecast!) so this will be the perfect opportunity to get acquainted with an immune booster in your hedgerows: the beautiful red berries of multiflora rose. They are ready to harvest anytime after a frost, and will keep well into the winter on the stems. These rose hips, like those of cultivated roses, are a source of vitamins and minerals, most notably vitamin C. Essential to nearly every bodily function, vitamin C has no toxic dose, and has the ability to detoxify hundreds of known toxins in the body, and promotes collagen formation.
These tiny gems are also a great source of vitamins A, D and E, zinc, beta-carotene, essential fatty acids, and lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant found in red fruits like tomatoes, and touted for a range of health benefits, such as cardiovascular, bone, prostate, and skin health. With anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties, it is beneficial in kidney and urinary tract health. Rose water has long been the star of facial care, treating wrinkles and blemishes, and slowing the aging process. It aids in healing wounds, and makes a soothing mouthwash for painful mouth sores or after dental work.
Some people just pick them and eat them in the field. You can make a tea or syrup with them, or dry them and grind into powder. You can make jelly with them; you’ll just need to additional fruit juice. You can mix the fruits from wild roses and even cultivated roses if you don’t have enough of one kind.
Lastly, a sprig of these beautiful, bright red berries nearly always graces my Thanksgiving table. Let me know how you use them! If you are a Facebook user, join the new Missouri Girl Eats Weeds group for more photos, recipes, group discussions, and links to past articles. You can also ask questions or share photos of your finds with the group!