Alberta's most popular symbol is the Wild Rose--it is even featured on our license plates. While this rose (and another similar strain, rosa arkansana, or the Prairie Rose) are not limited only to Alberta, they are one of our prettiest and most prevalent wildflowers. We have a whole bank of them that grow in a pile of rocks not far out into our field.
|Rose Hips in our field, featuring Jabin and Noah|
Being an Alberta girl born of two native Albertan parents (both country-born and raised), I was raised with a certain amount of country lore in my education, and got taught early in life that you can eat rose petals and hips, because they are high in Vitamin C. Also, that you can make tea with them. As a child, I tried the petals occasionally, but they were hardly worth the effort--plus, I got grossed out by the little bugs that loved the pollen and covered the delicate pink petals for most of the summer. I also tried the hips once or twice, but the bitterness made me decide that there were better ways to get my vitamins.
A couple of years ago, when we first moved to this field and started homesteading it, I eyed up the afore-mentioned bank of rose bushes and decided it was time to try my hand at rosehip jelly. A friend had recently introduced me to some of hers (yum!), and since it is one of the few native "fruits" to this area, I thought I would give it a go.
The jelly was delicious, if unusual, and the process was long and tedious. I almost made some more last fall--my youngest son and I spent a whole afternoon picking the hips--but procrastinated on it so long that they went mouldy in my fridge. (The really tedious part is not the picking so much as the boiling and removal of the seeds.) You never know, maybe I'll get some made this fall.
All this to say that up until today, it never occurred to me that all that vitamin C that is growing out in the field might be good for my animals, too. Specifically, horses.
According to this article at Natural Horse Supplies, all that vitaminny goodness in rosehips can be just as beneficial for horses, helping clean the blood, liver, and supporting the kidneys. Also, there is a lot more in there than Vitamin C--Vitamin A, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, and Vitamin K are among the benefits.
So, this fall when I am collecting hips for my jelly and tea, I may have to remember to set a few aside for some of the other critters on our homestead. (I'm thinking my chickens might enjoy them on occasion, too!) With our long Northern winters, these little treasures are sure to become a treat!