Back in England for unexpected short visit (family funeral), I took a stroll this morning along the River Nene not far from our house in Northamptonshire. It’s striking how few wild flowers there are in flower along roadsides and footpaths here compared with Pennsylvania but the hedgerow harvest is in full swing.
Rose hips and hawthorn berries are dripping from the hedgerows, pyracanthas and cotoneaster lean over garden fences so we must step aside as we walk by.
There were so many hawthorn berries weighing down the branches that I was able to pick some clusters to add to my daily fruit smoothie and still leave more than enough for the birds. Hawthorn berries (Crataegus monogyna - left, click to enlarge), it turns out, have high levels of Vitamin C: about 30-40mg per 100g compared with about 50mg per 100gm for oranges. But the Vitamin C content of hawthorns varies not only between different species, but also between different individual plants of the same species.
But as well as Vitamin C hawthorn also contains useful antioxidants and I’ve also discovered that hawthorn is also combined with ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) to improve memory, by improving the blood supply to the brain. I could definitely use that!
The best source of Vitamin C by far is rose hips, which can contain as much fifty (yes, FIFTY) times as much Vitamin C as oranges, in the Second World War hips of Rosa canina and other wild species were collected from British hedgerows for exactly this reason. But, again, it depends on the species or variety.
The Russian rose variety ‘Vitaminnyj-VNIVI’ (right, click to enlarge) has the most Vitamin C, and is reckoned to contain up to 2500mg per 100g of fruit. A Russian website where this variety is on sale tells me (translation by Google): “Ripen in late August, stay long on the bush and do not crumble to full maturity. The fruits are large, round-oval, 3-5 pieces brushes in the brush. Peel the orange-red, medium thickness, without pubescence. Sour-sweet taste. Yields of 2 kg per bush.” Apparently it’s a hybrid between “rose cinnamon and roses Webb”. Hmmm… You can read more here.
It would be great if this variety was available in the west.