The dog rose is a deciduous shrub that grows up to 3 metres in height with strong arching branches. Its numerous stems are covered with sharp spines and prickles up to 15 millimetres long. The leaves are pinnate, with five to seven leaflets. The flowers are white to pink, between 4 and 6 centimetres in diameter with five petals. The oval, red-orange fruit, or hip, is between 1.5 and 2 centimetres long and ripens in autumn. The hip is noted for its high vitamin C content and is used to make teas and jams. The dog rose is vulnerable to many insects, notably a gall-forming wasp that leaves balls of crimson “moss”, called Robin’s pin-cushions, on the leaf stalks.
The dog rose can be found around the edges of woods, in hedges, climbing on garden fences, and on sloping ground in the temperate zone of Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia. It has also been introduced to North America, where it grows in open fields and thickets and on dry banks. It thrives on a wide range of soils, except very dry or waterlogged ground.