Rosa sempervirens

Rosa sempervirens

The evergreen Rose or Rose of St. John (Rosa sempervirens L.) is a shrub species belonging to the Rosaceae family.

Systematics –
From the systematic point of view it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Kingdom Plantae, Sub-Trinchebionta, Superdivision Spermatophyta, Division Magnoliophyta, Class Magnoliopsida, Subclass Rosidae, Order Rosales, Family Rosaceae and therefore to the Genus Rosa and to the Species R. sempervirens.

Etymology –
The term Rosa comes from rósa rosa (in Greek ῥόδον rhódon): the queen of flowers. The specific epithet sempervirens comes from semper semper and from virens verdeggiante: evergreen.

Geographical Distribution and Habitat –
The evergreen rose is a Mediterranean species present in all regions of Italy with the exception of Piedmont, Valle d’Aosta and Trentino-Alto Adige.
Its habitat is that of the hottest spots and environments of deciduous forests and their mantles, both on limestone and on marl rich in bases, on fairly deep clay soils, dry in summer, below the lower montane belt, with optimum in the Mediterranean belt up to the sheltered valleys in the south of France.

Description –
The Rosa sempervirens is a shrubby, perennial, climbing plant with very thorny stems, which can reach 3 – 4 m in height.
The stems have curved spines, evergreen leaves, lucie, composed of 5-7 lanceolate, acute, toothed, dark green and shiny segments above.
The flowers are white, slightly perfumed, with heart-shaped petals, slightly wavy, perfectly white and the tuft of golden stamens in the center, which develop into inflorescences of 1 – 4 flowers.
The anthesis is between May and June.
The fruit, bright red in color, is a rosehip (pometo) of 0.5-1.6 cm in diameter, first ovoid with glands then subglobose, glabrous and reddish. Achenes ± pyramids with 2 flat sides and one convex, apex acuminate, ± hairy, of 4-4.8 x 2-2.5 mm, with surface longitudinally furrowed, opaque.

Cultivation –
The evergreen Rose should be grown in very sunny places to favor an abundant flowering, in calcareous but well-worked and deep soils.
When placed at home it is good to make a large hole, with a fine tillage, adding mature manure and, where necessary, even soft and rich universal soil. We position the rose avoiding to bury the collar too deeply, if we buy a rose in a vase we try to plant it leaving it at the same depth as it was in the vase.
It should be irrigated in the period from March to April, until September water the soil only when it is dry, avoiding excessive wetness of the foliage, to prevent the appearance of oidium. At the end of winter the damaged jets must be pruned, in order to favor a good issue of new jets in the following spring.
Like all roses, it is subject to aphids, especially in spring and in very humid climates, which is also favored by the presence of excessively nitrogen-rich soils.

Uses and Traditions –
The Rosa sempervirens is a slightly perfumed plant and is the ancestor of a few but magnificent vines including Félicité and Perpetué and hybrids produced by Henri Antoine Jacques, gardener of King Louis-Philippe I of France.
The false fruits of this plant are rich in vitamin C and can be used for the preparation of jams.
These fruits, like those of other wild roses, can be used to fight respiratory tract infections (ears, nose and throat); increase the possibility of absorption of the iron contained in other foods, control the level of cholesterol in the blood, make vitamin B9 (folic acid) active and prove to be an excellent antioxidant. They have an immunostimulatory action in preventing flu and colds, particularly in childhood; they are natural tonics, because they favor the use by the cells of the energy available in the body; neutralize the destructive action of free radicals and toxic substances, such as smoke derivatives; they improve the compactness of the tendon collagen structure.
In addition to the large amounts of vitamin C, the fruits also contain: polyphenols, organic acids, tannins and pectins.
It is not advisable to use these fruits in the case of kidney stones.

Preparation Mode –
Fresh fruits can be used in the cases mentioned above. For this purpose, they must be harvested when they are well ripe and deprived of seeds and small “hairs”.
You can prepare the decoction by putting a handful of fresh fruit in 1/2 l of water and boil for 10 minutes. Sweeten with honey to enhance the taste even more. It should be taken in the quantity of one cup 3 times a day.
You can also prepare herbal teas by drying the fruits and keeping them in a dry place in glass containers. You can prepare the herbal tea by first crushing the fruits in a mortar in the quantity that best suits you and then infuse them in boiling water. This herbal tea is slightly pink, acidulous, very pleasant. It should be taken in the quantity of one cup 3 times a day.
You can prepare toning baths by preparing a decoction with 50 grams of Rosa sempervirens berries and letting it cool. Strain and add 3 tablespoons of baking soda and 3 of salt, then pour into the bath filled with hot water. Stay in the water for about ten minutes and then dry.
As mentioned, in the kitchen, excellent jams can be prepared by combining the crushed and reduced pulp fruits with the same weight of sugar, thus obtaining a pleasant taste, with a refreshing and laxative effect, particularly suitable for children.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Attention: Pharmaceutical applications and food uses are indicated for informational purposes only, do not in any way represent a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is assumed for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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