Do hips continue to ripen once picked?

Wandering through Woolmers Estate in Tasmania (National Rose Garden - Australia) yesterday there were loads of species, or near-species, roses with lots of fleshy hips. One had jet black fleshy hips that looked very attractive. I have photos of the name-tags stored on my phone for identification purposes. They look ripe but it is mid summer here so I’ve put them into storage until I pick and stratify my own hips in early winter. If the handful of hips I picked yesterday aren’t completely ripe and the seeds not fully mature, will they continue to mature in storage or do they stop maturation once picked?

Hi Simon,

I don’t think that the seeds mature much after the hips are picked especially if you put the hips in the fridge. You might get some maturation if you pick a cane with a hip on top and keep it in a warm sunny place, but you will probably have to be careful to keep the stem from rotting.

Jim Sproul

Jet black fleshy hips sound like my R. primula, R.pimpinifolias/spinosissimas and they don’t get much ripe-er after the dark black color. Often they drop suddenly and become rodent food quickly, so you may have collected them at the perfect time.

Here, which is temperate with roses starting to bloom in late March, a lot of species are ripe by July, four months later. That may fit your time frame as well.

And there are other species that take nine months for hip colors to happen (wichurana, laevigata, and maybe bracteata)

The black fleshy hips were from R. pimpinellifolia according to my photos. They are charming on a very low spreading dense bush. With 5000 other roses around it I guess it could have been pollinated by anything but I’d say it was probably self-pollinated. Those black fleshy hips look almost good enough to pluck and eat straight off the bush like cherries!

There have been some claims on this forum that seeds from hips which are not quite fully ripe actually germinate a little more quickly. Has that been verified by any controlled study?

I don’t know at what stage the abscisic acid – a hormone which inhibits germination of unstratified seeds – begins to build up in the seeds. I have wondered what effect the refrigeration of entire hips has on the seeds. I have little enough experience that my results have no statistical significance, but this year, I have not yet had any germination from seeds whose hips had been refrigerated prior to extracting seeds.

I would concur that the black hips are ripe and would begin stratifying them already. I believe those species are slow to germinate and may require an extended stratification.

Reading through Jim’s website articles he believes that there may be a link between the contact between the seed and hip tissue as it stratifies that improves germination. I will have to re-read the article to re-fresh my memory…

Simon, your OP R.p.s are likely selfs if only because few other roses bloom as early, if my recollection is correct. (I’m far enough south now that roses don’t go dormant where I am.)

Since you mention Jim’s article, I do recall that rotting fruit around the seeds supposedly helps according to some literature, but I wasn’t sure about fruit which was not quite ripe.