It’s difficult to think of a flower surrounded by more mysticism and romance than the rose. Whether we’re discussing the stunningly beautiful, yet shy wild rose found throughout the world, or the highly cultivated, refined roses preferred for formal gardens, we’re discussing the queen of the flowers. The rose has a long, storied history, and plays a role in an incredible number of cultures. It has been used as food and medicine, and plays a role in culture, art and even religion.
Originally, all roses were wild. In fact, there are over 100 different species of wild roses found throughout the world. They’re native to almost every continent on the planet, from Europe and North America to northern Africa, Australia, and more. Wild roses bear only a passing resemblance to the flower that we all know and love today, though. The roses we’re most familiar with are cultivars – they’ve been chosen and bred by humans for hundreds, sometimes thousands of years, in order to promote characteristics we want.
Roses in History
While roses play a part in the history and culture of many different peoples, it is Rome that most of us are familiar with. For instance, while the Egyptian goddess Isis might have had the water lily as her sacred flower, the rose was sacred to the Roman goddess Venus, as well as to her son Cupid. It is from this that the notion of romance we connect with the rose stems. Interestingly, Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and merriment, also held the rose as being sacred.
Ancient Romans loved roses so much that they would strew literally tons of petals on the floor, and on couches. Some would even arrange it so petals would rain from the ceiling in their homes at certain times of day.
While we’re all familiar with the notion that red roses are connected to romantic love, there are many other meanings tied to roses, depending on their color and the type. For instance, pink roses are generally used for love, gratitude and joy. Dark pink roses indicate grace and appreciation, while light pink roses are used to mean innocence.
White roses are used to symbolize purity, innocence and sacred love, while yellow roses are used to express joy and welcome, friendship and caring. Note that there is no notion of romance attached to yellow roses, unlike other colors.
Orange roses are representative of passion and pride, while burgundy roses are used to indicate beauty. Green roses, while rare, are used as wishes for good luck, good health, or healing, while black roses represent death and sadness. Blue roses, which are never found in nature, and are only created by man, symbolize the mysterious and unattainable. Purpose roses represent royalty and splendor, and lavender roses are used to express love at first sight.
As you can see, the rose, whether we’re talking about wild roses or cultivars, red blooms or yellow, is truly the queen of flowers.