Oh, lovely, wild roses. Lets go prancing through the thicket and collect rose hips for Grandma and drink tea! I know what you are thinking.....'What does this have to do with Adventuring? I want to build a fire and cook meat!, Rose hips are girlie!' Well, stop right there nature boy or girl. Let me tell you that there is nothing girlie about scurvy! And that is what you will get if you don't go out and collect these little vitamin C balls. Well, maybe I am being too hard on you. You probably wont get scurvy at all. However, an extra boost of non-synthetic vitamin C will come in handy this winter, especially on the trail. So lets get on it.....
There are many types of wild roses in the Pacific Northwest. You've definitely seen them around. Two of the main ones go by the name of Rosa nutkana and Rosa woodsii. But also you can find Rosa hispida, Rosa gymnocarpa, Rosa acicularis, the list goes on. They are all members of the Rosaceae family. You can tell wild roses by their characteristic feathered leaves, brambley like growing pattern and their five-petaled pink/red flowers. I can't give you any clues on exactly where to find these guys, because they grow everywhere! Some types tolerate no drainage and clay soils, while others prefer the opposite. However, timing is important. The roses flower in the spring. Bright little pink flowers with yellow centers. This is a good way to spot a patch beforehand and go back in the winter when everything just looks like a bunch of sticks.
After the first frost is when to collect the hips or 'berries'. They are bright red, sometimes orange, depending on the variety. Collect a nice little basket of those, split them open and check for larvae (which happens here in our damp climate) and dry them. You can scoop the seeds out if you want. Make sure to pick ripe ones, which means, not to firm and not too soggy. After the first frost, they should be supple enough and have a good flavor. Make sure to leave a few hips for next years flowers as well as for other hungry animals. After drying you can do a couple things with them. Tea is fun and easy! Just steep the dried hips in some boiling water and enjoy some wild vitamin C for free (more than in an orange, now that is a good deal!). This is easy to bring camping or hiking too! You can also make jams and jellies, but who wants to do that when camping. Talk about girlie! Well, hopefully I've convinced you to not get scurvy this winter, I'll definitely be able to pick out the ones I didn't!!!! Happy collecting!
*Just a reminder to make sure to collect off bushes that have not been sprayed with pesticides or engine exhaust. Many towns use these wild roses in native plant gardens that reside alongside banks, grocery stores and highways. So use your common sense. The beach and forest thickets are good spots.