China Rose (Rosa Chinensis): Edibility and Medicinal Uses

China Rose (Rosa Chinensis)_ Edibility And Medicinal Uses
A beautiful rose with many uses, China rose (Rosa chinensis) is now one of the world's most popular cultivars. China rose is considered a medicinal plant essential to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Moreover, all parts of the Rosa chinensis are edible and great for making rose tea.

As the name suggests, this compact growing plant species is a native flora of China. It’s been cultivated globally as both an ornamental and medicinal plant.

The continuous spring to frost bloom and unique quality of its flowers makes this a plant you’ll want to learn about, so don’t go anywhere.

Rosa Chinensis Plant Profile

Rosa chinensis is the scientific name of the commonly known China rose. You may also see this plant type referred to by other common names, such as:

  • Chinese rose
  • Bengal rose
  • Rosa indica
  • Rosa x odorata
  • Slater’s Crimson China
  • 月季; pinyin: yuèjì (Chinese translations)

Other synonyms can also include:

  • Tea rose ‘Mutabilis’
  • Rosa ‘Tipo Ideale’
  • Rosa ‘Mutabilis’

The first part of its name relates to its genus Rosa, indicating that it belongs to the Rosaceae family.

Although often cultivated as a shrub, this beautiful wild rose can grow up to 10 feet and 6 feet wide. On these occasions, it’s known as a climber.

Rosa chinensis
Rosa chinensis

Why is it Called China rose?

It is no surprise that China’s rose refers to the Rosa chinensis.

This botanical name translates to the rose of China, hence why it’s called China rose.

Is China Rose Different from Hibiscus?

Both plant species look and behave similarly, even sharing synonyms. For example, the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is also known colloquially as China rose.

But, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis belongs to the species of tropical hibiscus in the Hibiseae tribe of the Malvaceae family, not the Rosaceae family like China rose.

How to Identify China Rose

Rosa chinensis is a small shrub with easily identifiable, cupped semi-double flowers that are pink-red. Young, reddish purplish foliage is a pleasant contrast to the flowers.

In warmer climates, the foliage can be evergreen. The stems are entirely thornless, which is excellent for pruning.

Sometimes you may see this wild rose producing single flowers that are 6cm in width.

They open to reveal honey yellow flowers. Age turns these flowers to a coppery pink, then watermelon to a final mahogany crimson combination.

China rose
China rose

Where Does Rosa chinensis Grow?

China has seen various cultivars of Rosa chinensis in its gardens for generations. Of course, this makes it difficult to distinguish between wild and cultivated roses.

The propagation of Rosa chinensis means that there are wide varieties of garden roses now bred from Rosa chinensis.

First introduced in 1982 from China, the bright and beautiful China rose is now cultivated worldwide.

Either as a wild rose or garden rose, China rose is a tropical plant that grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness zones 9 to 11.

But, it can be treated as annuals in less tropical climates.

Is Rosa Chinensis Fragrant?

The scent evolution of Chinese roses means that China rose has evolved with a light fragrance.

Put your nose close to these garden or wild roses and inhale their spicy and earthy black tea-like notes.

Combine its fragrance with other molecules, and it’s responsible for the classic tea smell of tea and hybrid tea roses.

These tea roses can thank the distinctive tea-like scent of their flowers, acquired from the Rosa chinensis, for their name.

Is China Rose Suitable for Tea?

If Chinese tradition has taught the western world anything, it’s how to use the botanical world to its maximum potential.

In this respect, China rose is an excellent form of tea. Rose tea has been a popular Chinese medicinal tea for many years as an essential tradition.

China rose tea can range from bitter to sweet, delicate to floral, or subtle in taste. It all depends on the variety of your tea roses.

To prepare rose tea, steep fresh or dried petals or flower buds in hot water and pour.

Is China Rose a Medicinal Plant?

China rose is considered a medicinal plant essential to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

China rose tea is used as a medicinal aid for a range of reasons, including;

  • To regulate qi (life energy)
  • Aid stomach and digestive problems
  • Reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cognitive diseases
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Sooth menstrual cramps
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Provide the body with vitamin C and antioxidants, boosting the immune system and disease-fighting cells

Can We Eat Rosa Chinensis?

Yes, you can eat all of the Rosa chinensis, including:

  • Petals
  • Fruit
  • Leaves
  • Seeds
  • Stem

Exercise caution when eating the seeds underneath the flesh of the fruit and flower. The hair layers around the seeds can irritate the mouth and digestive tract when digested.

Even though the seeds are a great source of vitamin E, the seed hairs must not enter the mouth or throat.

Rosa Chinensis Kitchen Uses

Rosa chinensis has many helpful kitchen uses, such as:

  • The flowers, flower buds, and young vegetative plant parts can be brewed and eaten as a kitchen herb for dishes like soup.
  • You can remove the thin, downy layer from the rosehip surrounding the seeds (the seed coat) and eat it raw or cooked. But you must handle them carefully and remove the seed hair.
  • Grinding the seeds and mixing with flour or adding them to other foods can be a tasty and nutritious food source.
  • Petals can be added to beverages, salads, and desserts or used in jelly, jam, or candy making. It depends on the flavor as they can vary from tart to sweet and spicy.
  • Use the rose petals in tea, vinegar, honey, liqueurs, and wine.
  • Make rose oil in perfume, but it requires many petals.
  • You can also use rose water as an eye wash (surprisingly) and for cooking (not so surprisingly)

How to Grow China Rose

There are a few things that ensure your China roses thrive, including:

  • Ensure your tea roses are not in a position of water logging.
  • Ensure conditions are moist, which China rose favor most. It can tolerate drought, though.
  • So they thrive, water more from budding to flowering, then reduce after blooming.
  • Wait until the soil is dry after blooming before rewatering to avoid water-logging.
  • You can grow your China rose in a container or as a hedge. But spend time on extra care and feeding for the best results.
  • If you want to grow your China rose from a cutting, follow the tips below:
    • Wrap it in a moistened paper towel
    • Wet the potting soil mixture in the rooting pot
    • Firm the surface to avoid air pockets.
    • Poke a planting hole in the center of the soil, so it’s deep enough to hold the bottom half of the cutting.


Getting into the great, wet outdoors in search of edible plants, herbs, fruits and fungi is one of Sarah’s favorite outdoor pursuits. She thinks there’s nothing better than combining her passion for hiking with the start of the foraging season. Sarah’s definitely not afraid of a little rain and dirt, it’s all part of the fun.

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