Wild Rose, Common, Wild or Bristly Rose is from the Rosaceae family.
Latin name: Rosa Nutkana pronounced (Rose-uh noot-KAY-nuh) Nootka Rose
Wild Rose is a hardy perennial shrub in the Rosaceae family and is native to the Nootka Sound, which is a waterway on the west coast of Vancouver Island on the Nuu-Chah-Nulth traditional and ancestral territory. It grows prevalently throughout the Pacific Northwest and can flourish in many habitats and difficult growing conditions. You may find Wild Rose on wet or dry land, steep slopes, open forests, meadows, floodplains, shorelines, and stream banks.
Growth, Distribution and Identification
Throughout the world, there are over 100 species of rose and thousands of cultivated varieties. Nootka Rose is found throughout the Pacific Northwest from southern Alaska to the northern California coast, throughout Alberta and Montana and down south in New Mexico. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the 3 most common species of Wild Rose are, Rosa gymnocarpa, Rosa pisocarpa, and Rosa nutkana. Wild Rose flowers have 5 sweetly aromatic heart-shaped petals, which range in color from light to bright pink. The leaves are alternate, having 5-7 jagged leaflets with rounded tips. True to their name, Wild Rose plants are considered somewhat aggressive when not managed and can become a large thicket! I must say, though, they could run rampant in my backyard any day!
Traditional uses of the plant
All parts of the plant offer a variety of healing benefits. The flowers and leaves are vulnerary (wound healing) and are soothing and cooling for the skin and eyes, easing pain and reducing inflammation. Wild Rose petals are a much beloved edible flower, calming and soothing anxiety and stress, imparting a gentle and sweet aroma. Rose petals are lovely in tea or infused in honey for a sweet spoonful of heart healing to soothe grief and sadness, bringing joy and activating heart energy. Rose hips form in the fall after the blooming season and are nutrient-rich and full of Vitamin A, C, and E. They are a wonderful springtime tonic for the kidneys and bladder, as they are mildly astringent and diuretic. Rose hips are gathered either in the late fall or early spring and can be boiled in tea or dried and have been eaten raw. The edible part of a rose hip is the outer shell. Great care must be taken to remove the mass of hard hairy seeds inside, as the fine hairs are irritating to the digestive tract and mouth. Rose hips make a wonderful addition to jellies and jams, offering nutritional benefits and flavour enhancement. Indigenous people have used the roots of the plant to make a tea for easing labour pains and sore throats, and the leaves and flowers for making an eye/face wash.
Rose Petals – my heart
Rose petals are my favourite part of the plant to work with to create my Wild Rose Hydrosol (Aromatic Water) and my Wild Rose Oil Infusion. Freshly harvested wild rose petals and water are placed into my copper pot and are slowly heated so as not to damage the organic constituents. As the delicate aromatic molecules of the petals begin to rise within the steam, so does my heartfelt joy! Distillation is Alchemy and Alchemy is Magic!!!! Hydrosols have many healing benefits and uses, as a facial mist, linen spray, compress or sitz bath. Wild Rose Hydrosol benefits all skin types. It is hydrating, nourishing, cooling, and soothing to redness and overheated skin.
A Wild Rose infusion calls for dried wild rose petals, placed in a wide-mouthed mason jar and infused for weeks before straining off the plant material. This sacred oil may be used in a number of ways as a base for salves, as a massage/bath oil, and to be used in ceremony to anoint chakra points on the body as well as for offerings to pour for land and spirit. Essential oils may be added to increase the benefits. Wild Rose oil is the base for my Wild Rose Salve and Wild Rose Elixir, which both contain rose essential oil (Rose otto) and Rose Quartz crystals! A Triple Goddess Blessing!!!
My Lineage My Way
On my healing journey, I have been learning more about my own lineage and am enjoying creating my own traditions rather than appropriating Indigenous traditions. To be clear, I am deeply grateful for the teachings that have been shared with me by my Indigenous sisters; however, as we gain more awareness, we must honour these times of truth and reconciliation by respecting Indigenous people and not take and try to make ours, that which is theirs, and that includes their traditions and culture.
Healing and Harvesting
An important aspect of harvesting (also known as wildcrafting) is to be in reciprocity with the land and people and to harvest with care and respect. As a settler on the unceded territory of the Squamish Nation and Coast Salish people, I am acutely aware of the importance of respecting the land, building relationship with the plant, (and people), and only taking what I need. In addition, there are ethical ways to harvest that will still allow bees to pollinate and rose hips to form. For example, as I gather, I always leave a couple of petals on the pistil (the centre) to ensure I am supporting the life cycle of the plant. What feels aligned for me is offering my hair, which like flowers, grows on me and can be plucked like a petal. I also love scattering dried flowers on the ground as an offering gift to Mother Earth in gratitude for her abundance and blessings.
Something special I have done is to pour my Wild Rose oil at the base of the plants used the previous year. When I do this, I feel deeply connected to something ancient and powerful. Priestesses from Avalon would sprinkle sacred oils, water, and holy offerings to bless and give back to the Goddess, and I, too, wish to be in this same service to her and the land.