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Rose hips are the fruit (seed and seed casing) of the rose plant. Flowers exist to produce fruit, they smell good and have bright colors in order to attract pollinators to assist in the process. The roses we love are there, from the plants perspective, to produce rose hips in order to reproduce.

Hips are red or orange and have many uses. They are high in Vitamin C, they have a sweet/tart flavor and can be used fresh, dried, or preserved. Rose hip tea, syrup, puree, jam, jelly, and sauce are all delicious. They are a source of food for wildlife. Rose water is made from hips and is a fragrant tonic. They are used in some cosmetics.

Some roses are grown specifically for their hips, with the flowers being a small bonus. Other roses are constantly deadheaded to induce continual bloom and no hips are produced.
In the UK, rose hips (or heps) were collected during and after the Second World War for processing into rose hip syrup, which was given to children and pregnant and nursing mothers. Rose hips were also used by the kids in my first school as an itching powder substitute. Once the skin and flesh are removed from the hip, the seeds can be pressed down the neck of some poor victim. With hilarious consequences.

I also have to say that rose hips make an excellent dry, slightly rosé wine. As you'd expect, really.

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