There are several wild rose species growing on Irish hedgerows but the commonest is the Dog rose (Rosa canina) or Feirdhris in Irish. (1a:1b;1c) This rose which bears pale pink or white flowers suddenly appears in June to brighten our spirits but for the rest of the year remains unseen. These flowers with their five notched petals are scented. The stamens in the centre are yellow. After pollination and fertilisation, these flowers will become scarlet rose hips. These are rich in vitamin C and were collected during World War 11 to provide rose-hip syrup for children and women who were pregnant. Vitamin C loaded citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges had become scarce because of the difficulties encountered importing them.
Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) or Woodbine or Féithleog in Irish winds its way clockwise through the hedgerow as it seeks branches to cling onto and light so that it can produce flowers. (2a;2b) These creamy white flowers which eventually change to a pinkish-yellow colour are strongly scented, especially in the evening. Hawk moths are attracted by this scent and with their long tongues they can extract the plentiful nectar and carry pollen to another flower. Pollinated flowers become bright red berries in the autumn. These are poisonous to humans but not to birds and other animals. They cleverly eat the flesh but not the hard seeds. This ensures the seeds’ dispersal. In Irish folklore Honeysuckle was seen as a plant of protection against evil influences and because it could strangle young trees to death with its powerful grip it was considered a symbol of strength.