The History of Roses
Roses have a long and colorful history. In fact, this beautiful flower has been around for approximately 35 million years. In nature, the genus Rosa has around 150 different species that have spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere from Alaska to Mexico, and beyond. In this blog, we’ll discuss the history of roses from ancient, medieval, and modern periods.
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Roses in the Ancient World
Rosa damascena, also known as the damask rose, is an early descendent of Rosa gallica. This rose made it’s appearance around 900 B.C., and it became most popular for its wonderful fragrance. While roses were used to commemorate various events during this time, below are some of the most famous stories of roses being used back then.
- Cleopatra allegedly had her living quarters filled with petals of roses so that when Marc Antony met her, he would remember her each time he smelled a rose.
- Roman high society women used roses to help them banish wrinkles when used in poultices.Rose petals were often dropped in wine because it was believed that the essence of the rose would stave off drunkenness. Armies that would come back victorious would often be showered with rose petals from civilians that crowded the streets and balconies as well.
- Newly married couples were often crowned with roses.
Roses in Medieval Times
During the medieval period following the fall of the Roman Empire, Europeans were busy trying to recover from the onslaught of various armies and raiders. Due to this trying time, it became very difficult to maintain rose gardens, and only a handful existed back then. It is said that the King of Franks Charlemagne, also known as Charles the Great (742 A.D. - 814 A.D.), also grew roses on the grounds of his palace at Aix-la-Chapelle, although it was mainly the monks who were responsible for keeping the roses alive.
Roses in Modern Periods
The era of modern roses was established alongside the first hybrid tea rose, known as “La France.” Created in 1867 by a man named Jean-Baptiste André Guillot, this unique breed of rose was considered special for a number of important horticultural reasons. Let’s take a look at them below.
- La France has a globular double flower with slightly rolled outer petals and a strong, sweet damask fragrance.
- This rose flower develops from long pointed buds that can reach an average diameter of nine centimeters. By the late 20th century, there were more than 10,000 hybrid tea roses that were being bred.
Other Legends About Roses
- In Greek mythology, the Goddess of Love, also known as Aphrodite, is said to have created the rose from the tears and blood of her love Adonis.
- The Romans, who turned Aphrodite into their goddess Venus, also adopted the rose as a symbol of love and beauty. When Cupid offered a rose to the God of Silence in an attempt to hush Venus’ amorous escapades, the flower turned into a symbol for secrecy. Roman dining room ceilings were often decorated with roses to remind guests to keep secret what has been said at the dinner table.
- When Venus’ son Cupid was stung by a bee, he accidentally shot arrows into a rose garden. It was believed to be the sting of the arrow that caused the roses to grow their thorns. When Venus walked through the garden and pricked her foot on a thorn, it was the droplets of her blood that turned the roses red.