Several parts of rose plants are considered edible by many insects, birds and mammals, including humans. Although most roses are protected by thorns, the petals, seeds and fruit, known as rose hips, are a natural part of the food chain for many animals.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, roses are among many nontoxic and nutritious flowers that can be enjoyed by humans and other animals. Roses are a viable and nutritious food option for herbivores because the rose hips and seeds are high in vitamin C. Rose hips are available even in the winter and have purported medicinal properties.
One edible rose, the Virginia rose, is a documented food source for a wide variety of animals, including bees and beetles, eight species of bird, mice, deer, rabbits and skunks. Because both grazers and browsers can eat different parts of the plant, roses are at the bottom of many food chains.
According to the Wilderness Arena survival guide, roses can help humans subsist in several ways. The buds and flowers can be eaten raw or cooked, the leaves produce a tasty tea, young shoots can be peeled for eating and the hips are prepared and consumed in a variety of ways.