There are a lot of flowers about at the moment and among the most attractive are the roses; there are hundreds of species in the Rosaceae family – from crab-apples to silverweed – but one of the commonest and most familiar is the Dog Rose.
This trailing shrub has vicious thorns which the plant uses to aid climbing as well as defence from herbivores, when it grows in a hedge it really makes it stock-proof! The flowers don’t smell of much but have delicate tissue-paper petals that range in colour from white to blushing pink, set off by the tuft of yolk-coloured stamens in the centre.
- The flowers were chosen as the emblem of the British monarchy by the Tudors, the red and white flowers which are joined as one in the heraldic symbol may well both be Dog-roses as the colour does vary in the wild.
- Shakespeare called it Eglantine in ‘A Midsummer-Night’s Dream’ as one of the flowers growing on the bank upon which Titania slept, this was a common name for it back then, it was also known as Witch’s Briar.
- The name Dog Rose comes from the ancient Greek belief that the roots of the plant could cure a man bitten by a mad dog (rabies), this is reflected in the scientific name Rosa canina.
- The blood-red hips that appear in late summer and autumn have long been used to make syrups or wine, often for medicinal purposes as they contain high levels of vitamin-C, twenty-times as much as Orange juice in fact.
- It is native to Europe, North-west Africa and western Asia.
- It is the county flower of Hampshire
- It grows up to 5m high, but can also climb to the tops of trees, it can be seen all year but is best in June and July when it is in flower.