The Rose – a symbol of love – so beautiful. And to smell a rose, is one of the most pleasing fragrances (from the rose come the saying “you always need to stop and smell the roses”). The rose is also used for many beneficial herbal remedies.
The rose has a fleshy edible fruit which ripens in late summer through autumn which is called the rose hip. Rose hips are known for their high vitamin C content, and many supplements are made from pure rosehips. Rose hips can also be extracted for rose hip seed oil which is what is used in many fine creams and facial products.
Rosewater is widely used in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Rose syrup comes from France where they extract the rose petals to make the syrup. Essential oil of rose has been used for centuries in perfumes.
In literature, ancient and modern, sacred and profane, no flower figures so conspicuously as the rose. To the Romans, it was most significant when placed over the door of a public or private banquet hall. Each who passed beneath it bound himself thereby not to disclose anything said or done within – hence the expression sub rosa (which means in secret, privately or confidentially), common to this day.
Back in the time of around 551-479 BC, in which Confucious wrote about his life, he claimed that the Emperor of China owned over 600 books about the culture of roses. The roses grew in the Emperor’s garden, and the Chinese extracted oil from the roses which was used only by nobles and dignitaries of the court. If ever a commoner was found in possession of even the tiniest amount of rose oil, he would be condemned to death.
During the “War of the Roses”, this is when the rose became an important heraldic symbol. The House of Lancaster was symbolized by a red rose, and the House of York by a white rose.
To protect its foliage from being eaten by hungry cattle, the rose goes armed into the battle of life with curved, sharp prickles, not true thorns or modified branches, but merely surface appliances which peel off with the bark.
To destroy crawling pilferers of pollen, several species coat their calices, at least, with fine hairs or sticky gum. And to insure wide distribution of offspring, the seeds are packed in the attractive, bright red calyx tube or hip, a favorite food of many birds, which drop them miles away.
There are over 100 different species of roses with many colors. There some wild roses which have a different look. Here a few interesting types:
The smoother, early, or Meadow Rose (R. blanda), found blooming in June and July in moist, rocky places from Newfoundland to New Jersey and a thousand miles westward, has slightly fragrant flowers, at first pink, later pure white. Their styles are separate, not cohering in a column nor projecting as in the climbing rose – which is a leafy, low bush mostly less than three feet high – it’s either entirely unarmed, or else provided with only a few weak prickles.
In swamps and low, wet ground from Quebec to Florida and westward to the Mississippi, the Swamp Rose (R. Carolina) blooms late in May and on to midsummer. The bush may grow taller than a man, or perhaps only a foot high. It is armed with stout, hooked, rather distant prickles, and few or no bristles.
In spite of its American Indian name, the lovely white Cherokee Rose (R. Sinica), that runs wild in the South, climbing, rambling, and rioting with a truly Oriental abandon and luxuriance, did indeed come from China.