Lots of people harvest what nature has to offer, most often in the form of hunting or fishing. I have, however, not encountered many people that harvest wild plants or parts of wild plants. Recently we met a gentleman down by the creek that was harvesting Chokeberry for himself and his family. He told us that people these days, specially in the cities, do not harvest wild plants, berries, fruit or mushrooms. So we thought, let’s try something new and the other day we went out down to the creek to harvest some rose hips. I am well-familiar with rose hips as it is commonly consumed in Europe, where I grew up. I have never, however, harvested my own rose hips so this was a new experience for me. Rose hips felt like a safe choice as there is nothing else around that could me mistaken for rose hips. Berries can be trickier and mushrooms are definitely beyond my comfort zone at this point.
It was a beautiful sunny Sunday morning and we had made our way to Whitemud Ravine south of Snow Valley to Look for some rose hips. I was not sure about the timing as some online resources claim one should wait with harvesting rose hips until after the first frost as they are supposedly sweeter that way. They appear ripe, however, with some of them starting to turn to soft and mush so we decided to try out both versions; harvest some before the first frost and then compare these to rose hips harvested after the first frost. There is certainly no shortage of rose hips along the trails so I think there will be plenty left to harvest later in the season. We ended up with about two cups of rose hips. We washed them, pinched off the old rose petals and now have them out to dry. Once they have dried up a bit we will try making rose hip tea.
The flowers of the Prickly Wilde Roses are long gone and have been replaced by green hips. As they ripen they will turn orange and then red. The hips are edible, something the First Nations and Swedes have known since the dawn of time. I’ll be keeping my eyes on the rose hips to harvest some when they become ripe. Making rose hip tea might be the easiest way of reaping some of the health benefits of these fruits or, if I feel adventurous, I might just make a batch of rose hip soup. The wilting of the flowers and the ripening of fruits signals the impeding end of the summer. Technically September 23 is the last day of summer but typically things turn fall’ish much earlier in these neck of the woods.
If your look around the forest after a rain, you might notice that some leaves shed the water readily and appear dry while on other leaves the water pools in droplets. Leaves are covered in a waxy cuticle and the structure and chemistry of the cuticle determines how water on its surface behaves. The stronger the water is repelled from the surface of the leave the larger and more dome shaped the water droplets on the leaves are. It is the cohesive intermolecular forces between the water molecules (specifically the hydrogen bonds between water molecules) that result in surface tension That ultimately form the spherical shape. There is probably a lot more that could be said about this phenomenon but suffice to say that is quite photogenic.
The Prickly Wild Rose (Rosa acicularis), also known as Alberta Wild Rose, Wild Rose and Nootka Rose is a small deciduous shrub with pink flowers and thick, thorny stems. Once the flowers wither it turns into a small oval shaped seed pod known as a rose hip. It has a circumpolar distribution occurring on both sides of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and is the official flower of the province of Alberta. Rose hip soup is a bit of a staple food stuff in Sweden. In this part of the world you would be lucky if you found rose hip tea. There is however a little know but reliable supplier of a “Rosehip drink” in these neck of the woods. At IKEA they stock rosehip drink, which is probably as close as you get to bonafide Swedish rosehip soup. Why does this matter in the big scheme of things? Firstly because rose hip soup is super yummy and secondly, every time I encounter a Wild Rose bush it reminds me of Sweden, where I spend a few decades many moons ago drinking rose hip soup out of the thermos during the winter (beats hot coco hands down).