The leaves of species roses have been found to have higher concentrations of medicinally valuable phenolic compounds than those of rose cultivars.
Researchers in Slovenia studied 4 rose species – Rosa canina, Rosa rubiginosa, Rosa glauca and Rosa sempervirens and compared them to 3 cultivars, Rosarium Uetersen, Ulrich Brunner Fils, and Schwanensee. Analysis looked at both anthocyanins and phenolic compounds in the petals and leaves.
The most marked differences were found in leaf phenolic compounds, with the species roses having consistently higher levels than the cultivars. Rosa canina, the most medicinally used rose, stood out with their high and varied phenolic content.
Study author Vlasta Cunja says that
“the traditional practice of using Rosa canina for medicinal purposes appears scientifically justified because (the species) contains significantly more phenolic antioxidants compared with other naturally occurring rose species of the region”.