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Dog rose (Rosa canina)

Diputación de Málaga
Rosa canina

Dog rose (Rosa canina)

Flowers Fruits
Plant Life > Trees, Bushes and Herbaceous Plants


It is a bush (up to 3 m high) with erect beams, without furs, but often with a type of white fine dust cover (bloom) on the older parts. It is characterized by the absence of devious backward thorns (typical rosaceae thorns). The leaves are deciduous, they are composed of 2 to 3 leaflets and divided by a central nerve provided with glands and furs on the furrow with diminished thorns. The leaves are oval and elongated, with serrated or bi-serrated edges and without furs. The flowers are solitary or appear in groups of 2 to 5 flowers. The petals (five) are of a dense pink or whitish colour. They have hairy stems (extension of the ovary) and multiple yellow yarns. The fruit (12 to 19 mm) is fleshy with several stones. The ovary is rounded, without furs, of a red colour turning darker when ripe. It contains multiples seeds inside.


It can appear from sea level to 1,500 meters above sea level. It is considered as a species from mild climates and it does not have a preference for any specific soil.  It prefers mountain or middle-mountain areas, like bushy deciduous and gall oaks under-woods, but it can also appear in other forest types or in hedges. It withstands well salinity and appreciates well-drained and wet soils, somewhat fertile and with a neutral pH. It can withstand very low temperatures.


It is a monoecious species with hermaphrodite flowers (flowers with both sexes on a single plant) solitary or grouped in inflorescences and located in bouquets. It flowers from April to June. The pollination is entomophil (aided by insects) and, although it is a bush able to pollinate itself, the fruits and seeds production is greater when it is pollinated thanks to other specimens. The fruit dispersion is basically made by animals (zoochoria).


It is a very common species in the province. It can be found in middle mountain areas of most of the provincial territory. It appears in mountain ranges of the North-eastern region, as for example the Ronda mountains range and Sierra de las Nieves. In the Great Path, we can find it in stages 10, 11, 22, 23, 33, 34.


The dog rose has been traditionally used for therapeutic purposes.  Its high tannin content makes it a very astringent fruit, hence it is popularly also known as an "arse stopper". Rose water with ophthalmologic properties was made with its petals. The fruits are very rich in vitamin C and diuretic. In addition to having been used as an anti-scorbutic, marmalades were made with it. The roots and leaves were cooked for their anti-diarrhoeal effects.


It can be confused with the wild rose (Rosa pouziini). To differentiate it, we have to look at the stems, as the latter has some red tainted ones and does not exhibit the white fine dust cover called bloom, apart from having some less dense pink flowers. The rose dog flowers are bigger and its bearing is greater than in the wild rose.

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