Rose hips (or Rose Haws) are the fruit of the rose that forms following successful pollination after the petals drop. They are definitely edible although the seeds are held inside by tiny hairs that can be irritating if not removed. Fresh, they have been compared to cranberries–tart and very fruity-flavored. They can also be dried or preserved to use at a later time. One method for making rose hip tea is to grind a little powder from the dried hips and steep it in hot water, straining the dregs before drinking. Many countries make their own concoctions from rose hips: nyponsoppa in Sweden, palinka in Hungary, and cockta in Slovenia.
The rose hip contains many beneficial chemicals. By weight, rose hips contain more Vitamin C than citrus fruits (about 1-2%). The also contain Vitamins A, D and E, as well as iron, carotenoids (including Beta-carotene), lycopene, and flavonoids. Historically, they have been used for laxatives and diuresis. Present research is looking at the benefits rose hips may have in the treatment of arthritis and depression.
When I went to Germany, I enjoyed the roses which seemed to be present everywhere. I was astounded by the size of the rose hips on some of the plants–I never knew they could be so large! I suspect it is because the newer varieties of roses are chosen for specific weather or disease-resistance. I have long noticed that the older, more “wild” varieties of roses have the best aromas (and probably the most beneficial phytochemicals, as well!).