Rose hip

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Code: f330
Latin name: Rosa spp.
Source material: Fresh fruit
Family: Rosaceae
Common names: Rose hip, Rosehip, Rose haw


A food, which may rarely result in allergy symptoms in sensitised individuals.

Allergen Exposure

Rose hip, from a species of rose flower, is a member of the Rosaceae family, which also includes fruit such as apple, peach and apricot.

Rose hip is the edible ripe ‘fruit’ of the rose plant (usually the dog or wild rose), the pod and the base of the flower, and is typically red to orange, but can be dark purple to black in some varieties. Rose hips (not true fruits, but enlarged floral cups, up to 30 mm in diameter) develop from rose blossoms and are a popular natural remedy for many complaints, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lower back pain.

Rose hip is used to make jellies, jams, tea, wine and syrup (which is often added to cough mixtures and other medicines). Because of its tart taste, it is seldom eaten raw. Rose hips are typically gathered wild, dried, de-seeded, and shipped as dried pulp. They are often ground into powder and sold in health-food stores, or added to other foods as a supplement.

Rose hip is particularly high in Vitamin C and is a good source of lycopene, riboflavin, pectins, nicotinic acid, and malic acid. (It is also a fairly good source of essential fatty acids, which is unusual for a plant food.) Rose hip is being investigated as a treatment for osteoarthritis, cancer and other serious ailments.

Allergen Description

No allergens from this food have yet been characterised.

A 13kDa lipid transfer protein-like protein has been isolated. (1)

Potential Cross-Reactivity

Extensive cross-reactivity occurs often between the fruit of the different individual members of the Rosaceae family. (2) Apple, apricot and peach, for example, are involved, but whether cross-reactivity between rose hip and the fruit of the other members occurs has not yet been reported. Recently, the presence of a lipid transfer protein (LTP) has been reported, (1) and this substance may cause cross-reactivity with other plants containing LTPs, including apple, apricot and peach.

Clinical Experience

IgE-mediated reactions

Anecdotal evidence suggests that rose hip may uncommonly induce symptoms of food allergy in sensitised individuals; however, few studies have been reported to date. (1, 3)

A study was conducted at 17 clinics in 15 European cities to evaluate the differences between some Northern countries regarding what foods, according to the patients, elicit hypersensitivity symptoms. According to questionnaires administered to food-allergic individuals concerning 86 different foods, the foods that most often elicited symptoms in Russia, Estonia, and Lithuania were citrus fruits, chocolate, honey, apple, hazelnut, strawberry, fish, tomato, hen’s egg, and cow’s milk, a situation that differed from that of Sweden and Denmark, where birch pollen-related foods such as nuts, apple, pear, kiwi, stone fruits, and carrot were the most common reported causes. The most common symptoms reported were oral allergy syndrome and urticaria. Birch pollen-related foods dominated as reported culprits in Scandinavia, whereas some mugwort-related foods were of more importance in Russia and the Baltic States. Among 1 139 individuals, rose hip was the 58th-most-often-reported food, resulting in adverse effects in 8.1%. (3)

In a 31-year-old man sensitised to Rosaceae without related pollen allergy, an anaphylactic reaction was reported to consumption of a fruit tea containing rose hip. He presented with abdominal pain, pruritus and generalised urticaria 20 minutes after drinking fruit tea. He had previously reported oral allergy syndrome to related Rosaceae family foods, peach and almond, and anaphylaxis after consuming cherry. The tea was a blend of rose hip, hibiscus, apple, orange peel and elderberry. The patient was shown to be sensitised to fruit tea extract and rose hip extract. The presence of a lipid transfer protein in the extract was demonstrated. (1)

Other reactions

The hairs on rose hips and the seeds within them are usually removed, but if not they can pose a hazard. The hairs are mechanically irritating, and the seeds have been implicated in toxic reactions.

Reactive airway disease occurring in cultivators and processors of herbal teas, such as sage, chamomile, dog rose and mint, has been described. (4)

Rose-hip keratitis has been reported. (5)

An evaluation was done of the rate of occupational asthma in workers at a rose-oil (Rosa domescena) extracting plant. This is a species closely related to the dog rose. It was reported that a specifically prepared skin-prick test using a rose extract was positive for 53.84% of the test subjects. It was concluded that the workers in a rose-oil extracting plant are more susceptible to rose pollens. (6)

Respiratory changes have been reported in tea workers, including those processing dog rose. (7, 8, 9)

Compiled by Dr Harris Steinman,


  1. Lleonart R, Corominas M, Lombardero M. Tea infusion, another source of Rosaceae allergy. Allergy 2007;62(1):89-90.
  2. Yman L. Botanical relations and immunological cross-reactions in pollen allergy. 2nd ed. Pharmacia Diagnostics AB. Uppsala. Sweden. 1982: ISBN 91-970475-09.
  3. Eriksson NE, Moller C, Werner S, Magnusson J, Bengtsson U, Zolubas M. Self-reported food hypersensitivity in Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, and Russia. J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2004;14(1):70-9.
  4. Blanc PD, Trainor WD, Lim DT. Herbal tea asthma. Br J Ind Med 1986;43(2):137-8.
  5. Venkatesh RP, Ramaesh K, Browne B. Rose-hip keratitis. Eye 2005;19(5):595-6.
  6. Akkaya A, Ornek Z, Kaleli S. Occupational asthma, eosinophil and skin prick tests and serum total IgE values of the workers in a plant manufacturing rose oil. Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol 2004;22(2-3):103-8.
  7. Zuskin E, Kanceljak B, Skuric Z, Ivankovic D. Immunological and respiratory changes in tea workers. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 1985;56(1):57-65.
  8. Zuskin E, Skuric Z. Respiratory function in tea workers. Br J Industrial Med 1984;41:88-93.
  9. Zuskin E, Kanceljak B, Witek TJ Jr, Schachter EN. Acute effects of herbal tea dust extracts on lung function. Chest 1989;96(6):1327-31.

As in all diagnostic testing, the diagnosis is made by the physican based on both test results and the patient history.