- Roses are the most popular flower in the world, and red roses are the most popular color by far.
- About 110 million roses are sold on Valentine’s Day every year.
- The rose is the national flower of the United States as well as the state flower of New York, Iowa, North Dakota and Georgia.
A Classic Flower That’s Still Full of Surprises
When we think of roses, most of us probably picture classic red roses like the ones seen above. Surprisingly, the majority of rose species look very different from the ones we see so often in floral arrangements, bouquets, and in many areas of popular culture.
Like the dog rose pictured here, the flowers of most “wild” rose species have only five petals. The ornamental varieties we usually think of are hybrids that have been specifically bred to produce lush, fragrant blossoms with many petals.
Ornamental roses have been cultivated for thousands of years, beginning around 500 BC in China, Persia, and other areas around the Mediterranean. Today, there are thousands of rose hybrids to choose from, which is why we enjoy such a huge selection of colors, shapes, and sizes of these stunning and versatile flowers.
In another unexpected twist, the rose’s famous thorns aren’t technically thorns at all; they’re actually a type of “prickle.” True thorns are a type of branch or stem, while prickles are more like a “hair.” Thistles are a well-known example of another flower with prickles.
Rose prickles tend to be hook-like, which helps climbing species hang on to other vegetation as they grow. These prickles are also an effective defense against hungry animals, but they do present a painful problem for pruners. Although truly thornless species are rare, today there are quite a few varieties of roses that have been bred to produce very small prickles that make gardening a much more comfortable experience for rose lovers.
Fragrant, Delicious, and… Good for Your Health?
You’ve probably heard of rose hips, but did you know that they’re considered a fruit? These berry-like structures, which range in color from red and orange to purple and black, are used in herbal teas, jams and jellies, syrups, soups, and even in baking.
They also have a welcome place in the world of health and beauty thanks to their high vitamin C content; the rose hips of dog roses and the rugosa rose are richer in vitamin C than almost any other fruit — including oranges! Due to the anti-aging benefits of vitamin C, rose hip seed oil is used in many skincare products and even in makeup.
Rose-scented perfumes are made from fragrant oils extracted from crushed rose petals. A byproduct of this process is rose water, which is used in cooking, cosmetics, medicine, and even some religious practices. The rose itself has a place in the culinary world, too. Rose petals can be candied or added to many kinds of food and drink to add their distinctive flavor and scent.
Have you ever heard that roses of different colors can be given to express your feelings? Is reading about roses getting you in the mood for Valentine’s Day — and are you suddenly wondering how roses became so intertwined with this holiday in the first place? Stay tuned for next week’s blog, where we’ll answer those questions and more!