How the West Was Won: Rose Species Crossing the Atlantic

It is said that it was all the ladies’ doing. In France, Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France in the Late 18th century, and Josephine, “Empress of the French” and Napoleon’s wife were both infatuated with roses. They influenced the way the symbolic language evolved, ascribing different meanings to each type of rose. Victorians turned flower giving into an art, practiced “floral language” with a vengeance, and dozens of dictionaries were published to help decipher their messages. Later, following the directive of 1836: “Mothers should teach their daughters religion and the art of making a well-made hand bouquet.” No wonder the name “rose” comes from French (based on the Latin “Rosa”). These and many other species of flowers in time found their way into the North American continent.

Typical Meanings Ascribed to Rose Species

  • Rose: symbolizes love, beauty, congratulations, joy, friendship and more
  • Champagne colored rose: symbolizes effervescence, vitality, devotion
  • Cherry-red rose: is merriment, sweetness of character
  • China rose: is beauty always new
  • Pink Rose: is grace, beauty, gentleness
  • White Rose: is unity, love, respect, beauty
  • Yellow Rose: relates to friendship, highest mark of distinction
  • Red and White Rose: reflects creative force, joy, unity
  • Coral rose: means I admire your accomplishments, good fortune, beauty
  • Damask Rose: reflects brilliant complexion
  • Lavender Rose: means rarity, dignity
  • Moss Rose: is love, voluptuousness
  • And Red Rose, the most passionate of all, symbolizes love, beauty, harmony, joy, and  young and beautiful

Million Year-Old Links between Flowers and Animals

In order to ensure successful reproduction, plants have created relationships with animals that go back millions of years. To expedite this process, plants provide the pollinators with alluring signs and rewards. They offer both visible signs, in the form of shapes and colors, as well as scent messages, and for nutritious lures, plants offer nectar and the pollen itself. In addition, imagine this: to enhance the pollinating process, some plants offer insects a narcotic drug which alters the pollinator’s behavior.

Flower Reproduction: More Than Meets the Eye

And just in case you didn’t know, flowering plants are, biologically speaking, no more than instruments of reproduction. In the millions of years that they’ve been around, that has always been their prime task, to provide the mechanism for the union of eggs and sperms. For example, they may cause “selfing”, which is the blending of sperm and egg from the same flower, or they may specialize in outcrossing, which involves the union of sperms and eggs from different flowers of the same type. They have other reproductive tricks as well and, as you can see, there is more to our innocent-looking flowers than meets the eyes.

The Amazingly Diverse Uses of Roses for Indoors

Roses, mostly hybrids that were bred for their blossoms, have been cultivated as ornamental plants for thousands of years. Countless numbers of hybrids and cultivars, i.e. combinations of plants that are bred for desirable traits, have been in use in gardens as flowering plants and for hedging. But roses have been put to use in many more areas:

  • As Cut Flowers: Many people get their first experience of roses in this form, as a bouquet or basket of beautiful cut flowers. In temperate climates, these are usually cultivated in greenhouses and then refrigerated until they are ready for pick-up or delivery. Large quantities are also grown in some tropical countries and then readied for shipment by air to many parts of the consuming world.
    • As Perfumes: The product that might be most familiar in this context would be “Rose water”, although “Rose oil” and “Attar of roses” have many uses as well. Rose water is used for cooking, cosmetics, medicine and in certain religious practices. Why is it precious? Because roughly two thousand flowers are used to produce one gram of oil.
 
  • As Food and Drink: The main product derived from the rose plant for food and beverage is “Rose hip”. Rich in vitamin C content, this is turned into jam, marmalade and jelly, or it is brewed for tea. Rose hips are also used to produce Rose hip seed oil, which in turn is used in skin and makeup products.
  • As MedicineR. Canina, which produces a fair amount of rose hip, is used for its content of Vitamin C. Other vitamins are extracted from the various species of roses and used as well as food supplements. Some roses have also been used in herbal and folk medicines. Rosa Chinensis and other species have been used for stomach ailments.
  • As Culture: Over the years, roses have been a favored subject for portraits, illustrations, stamps, and ornaments on architectural edifices. Renoir had a famous painting of cabbage roses called “Roses in a Vase”, and Monet, Cézanne and Renoir have all been prolific at producing still life paintings that featured pretty roses.

“Roses: How Do We Love Thee? Let Us Count the Ways”

As we just saw, roses are species of the genus Rosa. They are daredevil creaturesthatlive just abouteverywhere (except Antarctica) and canbefound growing in the wild in edges of old fields and meadows. They are sturdy warriors, vigorous, relatively disease-resistant and will exceed expectations with minimal maintenance. Their flowers can be large and single or small and in clusters, and colors range from white to pink to crimson to colors in between. There are 5 classes of roses (Gallica, Centifolia, Alba, Damask and Mosses) that comprise what those in-the-know consider to be the most coveted group of cultivated flowers in the history of mankind.

 

Here Are Five Favorite Rose Speciesfor Sending as Gifts

  1. Floribunda: Latin for “many-flowering”, Floribunda is a group of garden roses that was developed, during the last century only, by crossing hybrid teas with polyantha roses. The objective was to create roses that bloomed profusely like the polyantha, and with the beauty and color range of hybrid tea
  2. Grandiflora: These are tall, elegant plants which bloom several times during the season. They comprise a cross between a floribunda and a hybrid tea, combining between the robustness of the former and the classic hybrid tea clusters of flowers with their long stems.
  3. Hybrid Tea: By many accounts, these flowers are the world's most popular type of rose because of their color and flower. The fact that each flower is typically borne to one long stem makes them also ideal for gifting as cut flowers. Hybrid tea flowers are well-formed with large, high-centered buds, supported by long, straight and upright stems.
  4. Rugosa: This is a stunning example of an ornamental flower that features both beautiful flower heads as well as sweetly scented leaves. The Rugosa is also known as the Japanese rose and the Ramanas rose. It is native to Asia and flourishes along the coastlines of China, Japan and Korea.
  5. Rosa chinens: This is commonly referred to as the China Rose, and it is a member of the genus Rosa native to a few Southwest China Provinces. It is a shrub growing to 1–2 m (3 to 6 ft.) tall, and it has leaves with 3-5 leaflets. In the wild species, the flowers have five pink to red petals. The species is extensively cultivated in China as an ornamental plant.