“If you enjoy the fragrance of a rose, you must accept the thorns which it bears.” Isaac Hayes
The genus Rosa is a perennial plant in the family Rosaceae and is according to fossil evidence 35 million years old. Cultivation of the rose probably began in China, but it is unknown when exactly this started. During the time of Confucius, more than 2,500 years ago, it is said there were hundreds of books at the Imperial Palace that mentioned the rose. The Zhongguo Huajing (Chinese Floral Encyclopedia) mentions widespread rose culture in the 4th and 5th centuries AD.
During Roman times, roses were used as confetti in celebrations, as an ingredient for perfumes and for medicinal purposes. They were also placed on the door of a room where secret or confidential matters were discussed. Derived from this practice came the expression sub rosa, under the rose, meaning to keep a secret.
In 15th century England, the rose was the symbol of the different houses fighting each other over the control of the country. The white rose symbolized the House of York and the red rose symbolized the House of Lancaster. This is the reason why this civil war has been known as “The war of the Roses”.
Rosarians in Europe didn’t fully understand the process of fertilization and pollination until the end of the 18th century. They just cultivated roses from seeds or by striking a cutting. This often resulted in a different rose from the parent until growers started the new practice of inserting a rose onto a hardy root system.
Guillot Fils revolutionized the production of rose rootstocks through the use of seed propagation. He created two new classes of roses, the hybrid tea (“La France” introduced in 1867) and the polyantha (“Ma Pâquerette” introduced in 1875. The introduction of the “La France” is universally recognized as the first of a new class of roses. Hybrid teas became the most popular garden rose of the 20th century, but today, since their reputation as high maintenance plants popularity has declined.
The Empress Josephine of France, a passionate lover of roses, was a major contributor to the development and breeding of roses in the early 19th century when she patronized the cultivation of roses at her gardens at Malmaison. Many of the roses bred here were to become progenitors of countless hybrids developed over the next two centuries.
The association of roses with love has a long history as well. It was the most admired flower in ancient Egypt, sacred to the goddess Isis herself. Petals, whole flowers and garlands of roses have been found in the oldest tombs in the pyramids.
In Ancient Greece roses were associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love. One legend says that the first roses sprang from her tears while another relates that it was a gift for gods to celebrate her rising from the sea. Yet another myth tells that the rose was originally white, but became red when the goddess pricked her feet on the thorns as she was looking for her slain lover. Later on in Roman times, the rose became associated with Venus, the Roman goddess of love.
Then, during the era of courtly love in 12th century France, the Rose became the main symbol of romantic love, and especially the beloved lady herself, in many of the poems written by the troubadours. The rose also became the symbol of the feminine principle, and with Virgin Mary being the most important personification of the Divine Feminine, the rose became hew flower and Mary became the Mystic Rose.
1. a flower with a sweet smell that is usually white, yellow, red, or pink and that grows on a bush which has thorns on the stems
2. a slightly purplish-pink color (source: Merriam Webster).
The English rose, Dutch roos, Spanish rosa and Italian rosa come from Latin rosa, rose, probably via Greek dialects from Greek ρόδον (rhódon), rose, probably ultimately related to the Old Persian wrd- (wurdi).
Rose in other languages:
Dutch: de roos
Spanish: la rosa
Italian: la rosa
Categories: Flora and fauna