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The Practical Herbalist

A Rose By Another Name Is An Apple

Some families of plants have historically been very important to man. One family of plants that is very important is the rosacea family. The most well known member is of course the rose. Less well known is that many fruit bearing trees are members of the rosacea family. Apples, apricots, peaches, cherries, pears, plums, and hawthorn are all related members of the rosacea family. The "Rose Family" actually consists of about 3400 species of plants. Many of those plants were distributed by man as they settled new lands because the plants were so valued for food and medicine.

Many of these plants took on mythic and cultural significance. There is evidence that early man was eating apples as much as two and a half million years ago. The prevalence of apples across the world could be why apples are often assumed to be the forbidden fruit of the garden of eden. Roses are associated with love, and apples are used to refer to affection as in a person being "the apple of someone's eye". The Rowan tree or mountain ash, provided berries to eat but was also seen as a sacred tree by the Celtic Druids.

Besides the obvious food value of many members of the roseacea family, there were medicinal uses as well. The rose flower, called mei gua hua in Chinese, is used to move energy in the body. Rose hips, called jin ying zi, are a small fruit that grows on a rose like bush. It is used to stabilize energy in the body. Like the closely related apple it is also a source of food and nutrition. Hawthorn berry or shan zha, is very good at relieving that heavy feeling after eating too much. Western style herbalists like to use hawthorn leaves to regulate blood function in the body. Rowan berries like many sour fruits, were used to stop diarrhea. Dried plums (prunes) are famous for helping to relieve constipation.

Members of the roseacea family were favored by herbalists in many traditional herbal traditions around the world. The herbs are considered mild and and could be used safely in a variety of situations where there was a need to move and regulate energy through the body. This mild nature and the fact that many of the plants were used as food, is why the plants of the rose family were a favorite in folk remedies. There are whole traditions that look to the apple as a source of health. Apple cider, apple vinegar and the fruit itself have all been used in traditional folk medicine. The roseacea family has provided man with a lot over the centuries, and not just a pretty flower.

David Bock

This article was from David's LakeCountryOnline.com column, "The Practical Herbalist"

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David Bock, C. Ac., Dipl. OM, FABORM
Wisconsin Certified Acupuncturist
National Board Certification in Oriental Medicine
Fellow American Board Of Oriental Reproductive Medicine

Bock Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine
888 Thackeray Trail #206
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin 53066