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Roses are a group of herbaceous shrubs found in temperate regions throughout both hemispheres. All the Roses of the Antipodes, South Africa and the temperate parts of South America have been carried there by cultivation.
Roses have been valued for their beauty, fragrance, and healthful properties for hundreds of years. The flowers can be employed to make creations from rose water to fruit jams. Dried rose petals can be used to make potpourri and other topical applications. Pink roses can also be added to herbal teas, botanical bath blends and floral body sprays.
Wild roses typically grow as a shrub in dense thickets, which may reach three meters in height and be many more meters in width. Roses reproduce both by seed and by sending out suckers from the roots. All wild rose flowers have five petals and numerous stamens. The flowers are commonly a shade of pink or, less commonly, white. The deciduous leaves are oddly pinnately-compound with a varying number of leaflets, the most common being three or five or seven leaflets. The leaves grow alternately up the stem.
Wild roses have varying numbers of thorns, what botanists call prickles, which grow along the stem and sometimes along the leaf ribs.
A pollinated flower will slowly develop into a green fruit (called a rose hip) that gradually turns to yellow, orange, or red when ripe. Depending on the species and the time of year they are harvested, rose hips can have varying degrees of palatability, ranging from bitter or sour, to bland or sweet.
Inside the fleshy fruit are many seeds covered in tiny hairs. The seeds are not edible and need to be removed before eating. If the seeds are not removed, as in some rose hips dried for tea, then the tea should be carefully strained to avoid throat irritation from the hairs.
The ideal soil for rose flowers should be medium loam having sufficient organic matter, proper drainage and pH of 6.0 to 7.0. The soil should be thoroughly dug or ploughed 20-30 cm deep and kept open to sun for at least 15 days.
For rose plant cultivation, after removing the weeds, the field should be reploughed and leveled. The land with high water table is not suitable for rose cultivation.
A moderately cool climate with bright sunshine and free ventilation is best for rose cultivation.
There were dozens of varieties of roses in North America. The Native Americans learned how to use whatever grew in their region, as a medicine and, in cases of emergency, as a food. The leaves, petals, hips, and roots were widely used for a variety of conditions, including colds, fevers, diarrhea, influenza, and stomach troubles.
The Omahas steeped the hips or roots to make a wash to treat eye inflammations.
In the Great Lakes region, the Chippewas made a tea from the wild rose and used the berries for food and for diseases of the eye. They used the inner bark of the roots to treat cataracts.
The Pawnees collected the insect galls from the lower parts of the stems, and charred and crushed them for use in dressings for burns. The insect or disease-produced galls were found in the archaeological remains of the Hill Site, near present-day Guide Rock, Nebraska, which was occupied by the Pawnees in the early 1800s.
The Flathead and Cheyenne tribes treated snow blindness with an eyewash made by boiling the petals, stem bark, or root bark. The Cheyenne also boiled the inner bark to make a tea valued for treating diarrhea and stomach trouble.
Many other tribes used all parts of the plant for various remedies. The Crows boiled the crushed roots and used them in hot compresses to reduce swellings. They also sniffed vapor to stop bleedings from the nose or mouth.
Rose petals and their medicine help to move and open a heart which has tightened emotionally and spiritually. Great for uplifting the mood and alleviating depression, rose also has antispasmodic, aphrodisiac and sedative qualities, as well as being anti-inflammatory. Rose helps regulate menstruation as well as stimulate the digestion. Rosehips, which come along after the bloom has faded, are a wonderful source of vitamins C, B2 and E.
One may use rose as an herbal supplement, essential oil or flower essence. Rose petal tincture is often used in heart formulas. Dried rose petals make a lovely addition to teas.