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Rugosa Rose
Rosa rugosa 

An invasive species with medicinal advantages.

The Beach Rose - The Wrinkled Rose


Rugosa Rose

Rosa rugosa

Photo taken by author.

What's in a [common] name?

The rugosa rose has a number of common names that are more descriptive than creative. Rugosa rose comes from its scientific name “Rosa rugosa” from the Latin for “wrinkled rose,” which is another of its common names. It was given the name wrinkled because of its wrinkly leaves. It is also known as the beach rose because it is commonly found near beaches as an ornamental plant due to its ability to survive salty conditions. Additionally, some people even call it the “Japanese rose” because it is a species native to Japan (as well as China, the Korean peninsula, and parts of Russia) and was introduced to the United States from Japan in the 1800s.

Description and Ecology

The rugosa rose plant can reach up to 1.5 meters tall. It grows into dense thickets as it commonly propagates with suckers branching off from its root system. Its wrinkly leaves are pinnate and have 5-9 leaflets. The rose petals range in color from white to dark pink and develop into edible rosehips. The rosehips are red, often described like cherry tomatoes, and are 2-3 cm in diameter.


In the United States and parts of Europe, the rugosa rose is considered to be an invasive species. They can be found along the sides of roads or in beachy areas due to their high tolerance to salt. It outperforms native plants in growth rate, height, and biomass. Interestingly, however, it is considered an endangered species in its native China due to human activities and rapidly declining population numbers (Zhang et al. 2018).

Science and Medicine

Rugosa roses have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries and some of these uses have been corroborated in recent studies elucidating a multitude of pharmacological properties. Extracts rich in polyphenols have shown hypoglycemic effects on rats, increasing their sensitivity to insulin and reducing fasting blood glucose (Liu et al. 2017). In mice, rugosa rose flavonoids have been shown to reduce blood plasma triglyceride levels, suggesting that there is potential for these to be used as treatment for certain cardiovascular diseases (Baiyisaiti et al. 2019). Furthermore, phenolic compounds found in the flowers have been shown to reduce the production of inflammatory mediators suggesting that rugosa rose extracts can act as anti-inflammatory agents (Tursun et al. 2019).

Culinary Uses

Rosehip Jam - Wash the rosehips. Cook on cup of rosehips in one cup of water. Mash the softened fruit. Sift the resulting pulp through a fine strainer and boil the resulting liquid until thick and the consistency of jam.

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