I’m not sure if there is any single flower that is more popular than a rose. We think of the rose as a symbol for love and we’re attracted by its perfume scent. We all hope for a bouquet of roses come Valentine’s Day. There’s much you might not know about these famed blooms so read on receive the full course on Roses 101.
Roses began to be cultivated from gardens, likely in China, about 5,000 years ago. And during the Roman Empire, roses were grown all over the Middle East. In the South of Rome, the Romans made large public rose gardens. But when the Roman Empire fell, popularity for the rose fell and rose according to gardening trends. By the 17th century, roses were in very high demand. So much so that royalty accepted rose and rose water as a form of legal tender when conducting barter and payments. In the late 18th century, cultivated roses made their way over from China to Europe. This ushered in today’s rose hybrids.
Everyone knows about red roses symbolizing love. But did you know that different rose colors symbolize different things?
- Red: true love
- Blue: mystery, attaining the impossible, love at first sight
- White: silence or innocence, wistfulness, virtue, purity, secrecy, reverence and humility
- Dried white rose: sorrow
- *Black: death, hatred, farewell, rejuvenation or rebirth
- Yellow: friendship, jealousy, infidelity, apology, a broken heart, intense emotion, undying love, extreme betrayal
- Pink: grace
- Dark pink: gratitude
- Light pink: desire, passion, joy of life, youth, energy
- Burgundy: unconscious beauty
- Coral or orange: desire, passion
- Lavender (violet): love at first sight
- Red and white together: united
- Red and yellow together: joy, happiness, and excitement
While there are many colors with their coordinating meanings but the rose has far more symbols unrelated to its different colors.
In the 15th century, the War of the Roses was ongoing. The York and Lancaster factions were fighting for control of England and the rose became the symbol of these battles. The York family was represented by a white rose and the Lancaster family was represented by a red rose; thus, the War of the Roses.
In different religions, it has had a number of meanings. In ancient Rome, the rose symbolized the goddess of Venus. But when Rome became Christianized, the rose came to symbolize the Virgin Mary, which led to the rose’s association with rosaries.
Like the lavender or violet colored rose, a thornless rose can also signify love at first sight.
There are many more associated symbols with the rose in various cultures and countries.
Rose is often used in perfumes. Through the use of rose oil or rose water to bring out the favorite scents we associate with the flower in a neat and perfectly packaged perfume bottle.
But while we might love the scent of rose on our skin, the flavor is just as pleasant. Rose hips, the fruit that comes from the rose, are used to make jams and teas. Alternately the flavorful rose water is used in the creation of various sweets, such as gumdrops and baklava. And rose syrup, made from extract of rose petals and sugar, is used to flavor many dishes and drinks to add that delicious rose taste.
Additionally there is some medicinal value to the rose. Rose hips are a source of Vitamin C and can be used as a supplement. And in Chinese traditional medicine, Rosa chinensis has been used. It is commonly used to treat stomach problems and is being investigated as a means to control cancer growth.
Weird Fun Facts
- Roses don’t actually have thorns. What we all have commonly thought of as thorns are actually prickles.
- *There is no such thing as black roses. The Turkish Halfeti Rose is thought to be black, but it’s actually a color that while it appears black to the eye is actually a dark crimson color.
- The Juliet Rose took 15 years to breed and costs about $5 million.
- With the exception of the Rosa Sericea with four petals, all rose species have five petals.