Rose: The Symbol of Love | Flower Profile

Rose

The rose is a woody perennial that was originally from China but is now grown across the world. It is characterised by wide range of colours and sizes.

Roses are multi-petal flowers available in an array of colours. Some varieties are known for their prickles along the stems of the plant, which are used to deter predators. Many species are now cultivated although there are still varieties that grow in the wild.

Early History

Wild roses were used in the production of rosewater, scented oils and other fragrances long before they were cultivated. Many uses can be traced back to Iraq in 2000 BC. Deliberate cultivation of roses was well under way in China by 500 BC and undoubtedly the Romans and other early European civilisations also grew large quantities for commercial use. Some Roman emperors filled their swimming baths and fountains with rosewater, and sat on carpets of rose petals for their feasts and orgies. Roses were used as confetti for celebrations, for medical purposes, and as a source of perfume. One Roman emperor used to enjoy showering his guests with rose petals which tumbled down from the ceiling during festivities.

Symbol

Each colour offers a distinct meaning: red, the lover's rose, signifies enduring passion; white, humility and innocence; yellow, expressing friendship and joy; pink, gratitude, appreciation and admiration; orange, enthusiasm and desire; white lilac and purple roses represent enchantment and love at first sight. The number of stems in a rose bouquet can also express specific sentiments. 

Culture

Roses are England’s national flower. In the fifteenth century, they represented two important families — the Lancasters and the Yorks. The War of the Roses occurred in England between 1455 and 1487 when the house of Lancaster, represented by a red rose, and the house of York, represented by a white rose, competed with each other to rule England.

The rose also inspired one of England’s greatest writers, William Shakespeare. His play, Romeo and Juliet, contains one of the most popular quotes on roses. In the play, Juliet says, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” She’s reminding Romeo that even though they come from rival houses, it shouldn’t matter because their love is real.

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