Rosa canina (Dog Rose) is a branched, dense and large shrub of humid Mediterranean Maquis on the mountains and roadsides of high mountains. It is wonderful in the landscape in the summer with its flowers and in the autumn with its fruits. The branches are arched with large and rigid hooked thorns that grow irregularly along the branch. Smaller and less threatening thorns are carried on the leaf petiole and on the lower side of its midvein. The leaf is pinnate, with an odd number of leaflets, 3-7. The leaflet is ovate, broad, dentate. Ciliated and glandular stipules grow at its base, which are attached to the leaf petiole. The shrub sheds its leaves in the winter.
Dog Rose blooms in the summer, from May to August. The bloom is sparse. The flower is large, shaped like a flat bowl. It has a pleasant fragrance, a diameter of 5 cm, it is a delicate pink (with the hue differing somewhat from one individual to the next) and has 5 green unequal sepals which are pinnate at their head and envelop the flower bud. There are 5 identical petals which are emarginated at their head, and numerous stamens and pistils. There is no nectar, and pollination is carried out by pollen-seeking insects. The fruit is ovate, elongated. It is clearly seen from afar due to its bright red color, which darkens and becomes bright purple as it ripens. The fruit remains on the shrub for a long time, and decorates to the landscape. It has a sweet-sour taste, but the hairs on it reduce its value for human consumption.
Dog Rose is considered a rare species in Israel. It grows in oak forests and between rocks, mainly in the north – in the Galilee and the Carmel. It also reaches somewhat further to the south, to the Judean Mountains. A variety with a lush and late bloom until May-June grows on roadsides and in seasonal streams on Mount Hermon, up to an elevation of 1,700 m.
Its global distribution spreads from the Mediterranean countries to the north and east.
The genus includes 200 species. Four species are found in Israel. The genus Rosa also includes thousands of domesticated varieties (some even count tens of thousands), whose cultivation has continued for at least 2,500 years, as evidenced by documents from ancient Greece. Some regard the rose as the most important and common flower of gardening in temperate regions. The rose is dominant in private and in public gardens, and growing roses for picking is an important agricultural crop in Israel and around the world. Rosewater and rose oil are produced from the petals (especially of domesticated varieties with numerous petals). The main use of rosewater is for refreshing, but some believe in its power to reduce fever and heal ear infections, eye infections, headaches, and to solve problems in the digestive system, uterine pains and pneumonia.
Mutants with numerous petals were indeed developed among roses that were cultivated for domestication, but the basic flower of the genus Rosa (and in the entire family) has 5 petals.
The name Rose is not mentioned in the Torah, but is mentioned in the Mishnah. The confusion in names between Rose (vered) and Lila or Lilium (shoshan) is ancient, and appears in all European languages. The Hebrew name vered and the European name rose are derived from the same word, which apparently originates in Persia or in Asia Minor. Today it is agreed that rose (vered) is the correct name for a plant which basically has five petals (as mentioned, domesticated roses have a different amount, which reaches dozens and hundreds, because stamens evolved in them into petals), whereas the lila (shoshan) is a plant with six petal, which is the origin for the name, from the word shesh (six in Hebrew). Nonetheless, it is customary in both Hebrew and English that the shape drawn with a compass with six “leaves”, and which is very common in reliefs, symbols and stamps, is called varda or rosette. The Hebrew name for the color pink (varod) is also derived from the name of the plant, as is the name of the Island of Rhodes (Isle of Roses). In Arabic, the name vered (rose) is used as a general name for a flower.
Written by Mike Livne