Thursday, August 28, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Rose as herb

In choosing an herb of the year, the International Herb Society considers "being outstanding in at least two of the three major categories - medicinal, culinary or decorative." The rose, surely, shines in all three.

Rose as herb

In choosing an herb of the year, the International Herb Society considers "being outstanding in at least two of the three major categories - medicinal, culinary or decorative." The rose, surely, shines in all three.

Roses - their hips, especially - have long been important in herbal medicine. The main ones used for this purpose are the old species roses, including the red rose of Lancaster, and Rosa rugosa, one of my faves, otherwise known as the hedgehog or Japanese rose, according to The Ultimate Herb Book by Antony Atha, which covers more than 200 herbs and is a reference I use frequently.

Rose hips are sold in lots of places today as a source of vitamin C. Essential rose oil is a player in aromatherapy and dried roses are almost always part of potpourri mixes designed to soothe the nerves.

Culinarily speaking, if that's even a word, rose petals make amazing deserts. I'm remembering an Indian restaurant in New York and a dish of pale pink ice cream. Rose water is used in jellies and jams and all sorts of baked goods, too.

For most of us, however, roses are just plain beautiful, some with the added benefit of fragrance. They captivate us. So while it may sound strange to think of roses as herbs, do it this one time!

Some of the other winners of this herb-of-the-year business are more traditional - fennel, sage, basil and dill. Coming next year - what, no drama? - the IHS will be naming elderberry to the top spot.

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog
Ginny Smith, a Philadelphia native, joined the Inquirer at 1985. After stints as both reporter and editor in the city and suburbs, she’s been happily writing – and learning - about gardening full time since 2006. She’s won two silver medals of achievement from the national Garden Writers Association and in 2011, Bartram’s Garden honored her with its Green Exemplar award for her stories about “the region’s deeply rooted horticultural history, cultural attractions and bountiful gardens.” She plays in her own – mostly - bountiful garden in East Falls. Reach Virginia A. at vsmith@phillynews.com .

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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