Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Rose Hips as Winter Food for Squirrels

My backyard is still under over a foot of snow with more expected this week. My bird feeder has been a busy gathering place for my feathered friends. And the squirrels are just as happy to dine on whatever mess they find on the ground from those messy birds.

But yesterday, I saw them munching on a different treat - rose hips.

During the summer, my carpet roses are a beautiful shade of pink and emit a sweet scent. Rose hips are swollen seed pods that form under the blossom, turning orange and red, and last for months after the blossom is long gone. Here's how mine looked in October.

Rose hips are a tasty treat for squirrels, birds and rabbits. Humans can eat them too, but only the fleshy outer part. The hairy inner seeds can irritate human intestines. Personally, I've never eaten one, but I've read that they taste like a tart apple crossed with a rose petal. Rose hips are rich in vitamin C and can be made into jams, jellies, syrups and tea.

Looking at these two, enjoying the rose hips, I'm so happy I didn't deadhead the roses at the end of the season. I left them because they were attractive, but also a valuable food source for wildlife during a time of year when food is scarce.