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The World's Most Beloved Flower Is Much More Than Just a Token For Hopeless Romantics!

There are roses, and then there are all other flowers. This crown jewel of the flower world has captivated humankind for thousands of years with its voluptuous form, singular fragrance and healing properties.

The Rosa genus is as diverse as it is ancient (the earliest roses can be traced back over 35 million years!). Its cultivars range from sprawling and climbing bushes with simple, five-petaled blooms to proud-stemmed, luxuriant nests of endlessly unfurling petals. About 3,000 of the genus’ over 20,000 cultivars are grown commercially.

Floral designers generally offer roses in four forms: the classic long-stemmed, hybrid tea rose with one large flower per stem (over 3 ½" / 90 mm in diameter); a smaller, shorter sweetheart version (less than 3 ½" / 90 mm in diameter); a multi-flowered spray rose, with several small blossoms branching off of a single stem; and the diminutive miniature or pot rose. Hybrid tea, sweetheart and spray roses are sold as cut flowers, while the pot rose is sold as a blooming plant.

All four varieties have compound leaves, thorn-studded stems, and produce lush single or double blossoms with layers upon layers of soft petals. Some cultivars are richly scented, while others have little to no fragrance at all. Likewise, some cultivars are more prone to damage from ethylene gas. Roses also dye well and dry easily. They may be preserved on their stems, or the blossoms may be deconstructed and the petals used fresh or dried.


• Cut roses outsell all other types of cut flowers combined, comprising about 60% of flower sales worldwide! Potted roses are also among the blooming plants in highest demand.

• When rose blossoms are allowed to mature, they grow small, plump fruits called hips, which are folk remedy gold. They are one of nature’s most concentrated sources of Vitamin C and can be used to make a tart, nourishing herbal tea.

• Rose petals can add a subtle flavor and pop of color to salads, oils, butters and candies. They can also be mashed into a soothing skin balm. Please note that only organic, untreated roses should be brewed, eaten or rubbed on.

• Rose oil has been a prized perfume ingredient for centuries. Two thousand rose blossoms yield one gram of the precious oil.

• Roses were considered sacred in ancient Egypt, and were a common element in Egyptian worship and burial rituals. To this day, roses enhance rites of passage from weddings and holidays to funerals in diverse faiths, countries and cultures across the globe.

• The Rosa genus is so ancient that its botanical name evolved along with the plant, and it has no other scientific meaning except to name the flower. In some languages, the word “rosa” is used to denote the color pink.

• In days of old, knights were sold on the romance of roses. Not only were roses used as a decorative element on royal crests and banners, they were also given as talismans of courtly love—meaning they were among the first flowers cultivated for ornamental reasons.

• In 1485, English King Henry VII designed the Tudor rose as his official royal seal. The stylized symbol depicts a five-petaled white rose nestled within a red one.

• The first commercially cultivated roses were sold in bustling Renaissance marketplaces, and for the last four centuries the rose’s propagation and popularity have only, well, grown.

• Roses have always had a tender place in the hearts of artists and poets. The earliest painting known to art historians depicts a five-petaled rose. Renaissance painters used roses as symbols for purity and divine love. A list of rose references in literature could fill a book. Today, roses are still popular motifs in décor and fashion.

• Modern cultivars are often named for famous personalities. Prince William of the United Kingdom and his wife, Kate Middleton, have a rose cultivar named after them, as did William’s mother, Princess Diana. Beatles singer Paul McCartney, Impressionist painter Claude Monet and celebrities like Rosie O’Donnell, Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Streisand also have roses named after them.

• White roses are favorites for actress Scarlett Johansson and pop stars like Madonna and Britney Spears, while award-winning actress Meryl Streep and opera diva Monica Bellucci prefer red.

• In addition to being the world’s favorite cut flower, roses are also the most popular flower used for tattoos.

• Fragrant roses give off more scent on sunny days, but they also have a shorter vase life than their less aromatic cousins.

• Miniature roses were first cultivated in China.

• The rose is the state flower of New York.

• The rose is the national flower of Bulgaria, Cypress, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Luxembourg, Maldives, Slovakia and the United States.

• June is recognized as National Rose Month. On that same note, the rose is the birth month flower for June babies.

• The rose is the flower used to celebrate 15th wedding anniversaries.

• The yellow rose is the 50th wedding anniversary flower, along with the purple violet.

• A member of the prolific Rosaceae (rose) family, roses are related to nearly half of the grocery store’s produce section. Relatives in the fruit-basket family reunion include apples, pears, peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, almonds and many other tasty species.

Roses are only one of the Flowers We Love, and we would love to share them all with you. Whether flowers are your passion or your profession, this living encyclopedia will expand your knowledge and entice your imagination. Visit often as we add entries to keep your floral skills growing.