20 Things You Didn’t Know About Roses

Roses symbolize a wide range of emotions, including the most important of all — love. Read on to find more reasons to love this beautiful flower.

Things you didn't know about roses.

Roses are generally loved the world over, chiefly because of its classic beauty. It’s been featured in the Bible, in many storybooks and have come to symbolize emotions, countries and states. It’s also worth noting that aside from its timeless beauty, roses have a colorful history and characteristics.

Roses are more than just decorative flowers, too. It has been of beneficial use all the way from the sciences to the food industry. The following list of facts will dispel some wrong notions about this popular flower as well as add more reasons to love this classic beauty.

Roses have prickles

Close up of a rose's stem with prickles.

Technically speaking, roses have prickles and not thorns. Thorns have deeper roots in plants’ stem whereas prickles attach at the surface and are more easily removed. The prickles are derived from the climbing roses species which help when bonding to other plants and objects.

A big family

Roses in red, white, yellow and peach colors.

There are about 100 species of roses with variations in color, shape and climate preferences. Some of the species include Damask, Rugosa and Virginia roses, with the most common of the species being the Tea Rose.

Color coding

A bouquet of roses in different colors.

Roses have hidden meanings based on their color. The following are the flower meanings, according to the Victorian flower dictionaries.

Red roses, the most common, symbolize love. Pink roses symbolize grace, purple enchantment, green constant rejuvenation of spirit, peach modesty, salmon desire and excitement while orange — an energetic curious color, symbolize fascination. Last but not the least, who knew that giving someone a bouquet of yellow roses could be so cruel. These sunny-colored roses symbolize infidelity!

Deep historical roots

Rose bush in an ancient town of Greece.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the oldest species of plant cultivated and used for decoration is the rose. Historically, the rose is considered of great importance to the Romans and the Egyptians. Ancient Romans grew the flowers in vast plantations and local hothouses to ensure an all-year-round supply of medicinal extracts, cooking ingredients and ornamentation.

Moreover, the flowers were used to decorate buildings, furniture, and even laid rose petal carpets. In addition, they used to wear them on a string around their necks. Anything which was said “under the rose” (sub rosa) was deemed to be a secret. Interestingly, Cleopatra of Egypt was believed to have covered the floor of her palace room with roses before Mark Antony visited her.

Elongated lifespan

Exterior of the Hildesheim Cathedral in Germany.

Don’t we all love beautiful things to last long? Well, roses can survive for extremely long periods of time. Roses are mentioned throughout history and its fossils date back 35 million years, with the oldest fossilized imprint left on a slate deposit found in Florissant, Colorado.

Quite fascinating, the oldest rose bush in the world is said to grow on the Hildesheim cathedral in Germany. It is believed to be over 1000 years old, dating back to the founding history of the diocese of Hildesheim, around 815 A.D. The cathedral walls are also covered by the 1000-year-old rose bush. It stands as a testament to Hildesheim’s endurance which survived the destruction of the cathedral in 1945.

Grows very tall

A rose garden during sunrise.

On November 8th, 2017, it was keyed into the Guinness Book of World Records that the tallest rose bush is 5.689 meters, (18ft 8 in) and was grown by Christopher Rose in La Puente, California in the US. The record-breaking rose bush is of the variety “Bewitched”.

Largest bouquet

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest bouquet was made from 156,940 roses. It was created by and displayed in NordWestZentrum shopping mall in Frankfurt am Main, Germany on 29 September 2006. However, there has been no documentation on whether the world’s largest dining table could use it as a centerpiece.

The first blue rose

Breeders around the globe have been busy crossing roses of various colors for more than a couple of decades trying to make the impossible possible. They wanted to come up with the blue rose, a new creation that was highly sought after despite its non-existence. Since rose petals don’t contain the enzyme required for creating the blue pigment, their efforts proved to be futile.

To fill the demand, florists would dye the white varieties and sell them in a blue garb to supply the blue roses to the market. It was not until the year 2009 which brought an end to the misery of the breeders as an application of genetic engineering allowed rose breeders to produce roses that possess the blue pigment known as delphinidin.

World’s most expensive rose?

Considered to be one of the most famous rose breeders of all time, David Austin stunned the world by introducing the world’s most expensive rose, the Juliet rose. It’s also known as the “3 million rose” because that’s how much it cost him to create the apricot-hued hybrid. According to Austin, he had to work for 15 long years, spending a whopping $5 million for breeding the rose.

It debuted in 2006 at the Chelsea Flower Show and took the floral world by storm, not only for its exquisite blushing beauty and light sensual fragrance, but because it was the most expensive rose ever developed. It blooms when opened, revealing a neat array of petals nestling within the folds in the center of the bloom — a truly sensational sight to behold!

The Overnight Scentsation

Overnight Scentsation is the name of the very first rose that traveled to space, as surprising as it may sound. One of the reasons it was sent on the trip is its extraordinarily strong fragrance based off a perfume made from the fragrant oils of this rose. It’s a miniature rose that was taken to space for aiding researchers to find out what kind of impact low gravity can have on the fragrance of roses. Furthermore, the Overnight Scentsation was used by scientists to learn ways of improving the fragrances of various consumer products.


Flat lay of Indian crumbled roses, fennel seeds, chamomile and Moroccan roses on gray background.

An interestingly unknown fact about roses is its palatability. Widely used as a culinary ingredient, the flower is most commonly used for preparing cakes and salads. In addition, the use of rose hips and petals for the making of marmalades and jams is also pretty common. Rosewater — made by stepping rose petals in regular water — is often used for making nougat, baklava, and gumdrops. The rose syrup is also used to make marshmallows and in rose-flavored ice cream. All these palatable applications make the rose a favorite ingredient in the food industry.

Ascorbic acid

Dried ripe rose hip fruit served in a bowl.

Do you know that this envied beauty scores high on the nutrition aspect as well? The rose hips — considered as fruits produced by rose plants, shaped like berries, mostly reddish with versions of black and dark purple — are rich sources of Ascorbic acid or Vitamin C. Moreover, these fruits are also known to contain Vitamin A and Vitamin B in small quantities. A considerable small amount of the Ascorbic acid can also be found even in the rose petals. The rose hip is considered one of the richest plant sources of Vitamin C.

Black roses?

Out of all the possible colors, perhaps not surprisingly, there are no black roses. Black roses are deemed as an illusion of the mind. In most cases, what might be referred to as the black rose is actually a dark red rose. A good example worth noting is the Turkish Halfeti rose, also known as “The Black Rose of Turkey.” It’s a breed that appears pitch-black to the naked eye, but it actually has a dark reddish-crimson color.

Largest private rose garden

Located in Arezzo, Tuscany in Italy, the largest private rose garden in the world is owned by an Italian woman named Carla Fineschi Cavriglai. Her private collection of roses has over 7000 variants. The aim was to create a scientific collection of living plants. Known for its botanical value worldwide, the garden can be visited in the spring months from the first Sunday in May to the last Sunday in June during the daytime, with the entrance fee going towards a botanical funding.

War of the roses

Traditionally, England is signified by the rose since it is the country’s national flower. It came into prominence during the 15th century when the factions fighting to control the throne of England used the rose as a symbol. Whereas the white rose represented Yorkshire, the red one branded Lancaster. Not surprisingly, the conflict between these rival factions of noble houses came to be known as the “War of The Roses.”


In Greek mythology, Aphrodite the goddess of love, is said to have created the white rose from the tears she cried over the blood of her beloved Adonis. The Romans, hence, turned Aphrodite into their goddess Venus, who also made the rose significant. Greek mythology also has it that Venus’ son Cupid accidentally shot arrows into the rose garden when a bee stung him and it was the ‘sting’ of the arrows that caused the roses to grow thorns. When Venus walked through the garden and pricked her foot on a thorn, it was the droplets of her blood that turned the roses red. Amazing!

Rose oil

Pink rose petals falling on wooden desk where a bottle of essential oil stands.

Despite the extraction of a minimal amount of oil requiring a huge number of roses, rose oil is an important ingredient in the perfume industry with one gram of its oil produced from 2,000 roses. The nice scent of the rose comes from microscopic perfume glands on the petals. In addition, the Rose Valley in Bulgaria is famous for its rose-growing industry. It has been cultivated there for centuries and produces 85% of the world’s rose oil.

World’s largest rosebush

The world’s largest rosebush is of the Lady Banksia variety. Planted in Tombstone, Arizona from a slip from another rosebush in the late 18th century, the rosebush’s canopy measures 790 square meters (8,500 square feet) with its trunk measuring a circumference of around 3.6 meters (12 feet). When in full bloom, this rosebush has more than 200,000 blossoms and its branches spread out six feet thick over an arbor under which more than 150 people can be seated comfortably. This makes it one of the world’s largest rosebush to ever exist.

4 petals rose

The flowers of the majority of the rose species including wild roses have 5 petals except for the species of “Rosa sericea,” which has only 4. Native to the Himalayas, this breed of rose was introduced to Europe only in the 19th century. It is mostly found growing in mountains at altitudes of around 2-4 kilometers, mostly in Asia.

Roses bring valuable income for some countries

Closeup of a garden rose.

Close to 54% of the land in Ecuador is filled with roses. Close to a quarter of all roses sold in the United States come from Ecuador. Almost 80% of the 4 billion cut flower stems, including roses, purchased annually in the United States come from Ecuador and Colombia. It is from here that 200 million rose stems are sent to the United States for the most celebrated February 14th event worldwide, the Valentine’s day. Roses are a big business in South America, employing close to a quarter million people or even more.

In France, about 60% of all cut flowers bought are roses. With 600 million of this precious cut flower sold annually in France, it estimates to roughly 10 roses per person per year. Moreover, 200 million roses are grown in France, the rest being imported from other rose-growing countries.

In Kenya, the bigger rose farms each employ close to 5,000 workers, with 30% of Europe’s cut flower imports being from the same country and most of those are roses.

In Zambia, over 80% of cultivated land is dominated by rose cultivation with 95% of all Zambia’s flower exports being roses.

All these rose-growing countries mentioned are near the equator in areas where water is abundant as roses are thirsty plants, consuming up to 13 liters (3.4 gallons) of water to bring just one flower to bloom.

Other rose facts

Closeup of a red rose with green leaves on the background.

  • The rose is among the three flowers that are mentioned in the Bible — the other two being the camphire (henna) and the lily.
  • The buds of the tiniest roses are the size of a grain of rice.
  • The rainbow rose is a genuine rose with highly attractive colors, each petal having one of the colors of the rainbow.
  • The leading country in exporting roses is the Netherlands.
  • Four states in the US have chosen the rose as their official flower, Georgia, New York, and North Dakota.
  • The first-ever U.S. president, George Washington was a fan of roses and named a variety after his mother.

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