Although garden cultivation of roses started 5,000 years ago, the rose genus is about 35 million years old according to fossil evidence found in Colorado. Planted in A.D. 815, the world’s oldest documented rose bush is located in Hildesheim, Germany. It is now about the size of a tree.
Roses grow throughout the world and are not limited to one geographic region like some plants, and are therefore referred to as a universal flower. They have been used in history for purposes ranging from perfume to medicine to symbolic meaning.
During the seventeenth century there was such a high demand for this flower that rose water and roses were used for bartering purposes and were considered legal tender such as the dollar is today. People could use roses for payment – can you imagine? Additionally, dried rose petals were believed to have mysterious powers until the nineteenth century.
Check out these neat tidbits of info:
- The Roman Emperor Nero would shower his guests in an extremely dense cloud of rose petals. It is said that some guests almost suffocated from the intense fragrance.
- A relationship between the five petals of the Rosa sancta and the five wounds of Christ was identified by early Christians.
- The largest recorded rose was a 33 inch wide pink rose bred by Nikita K. Rulhoksoffski in California.
- Although roses are known for their medicinal uses they were initially used as an enhancer to hide the bitter taste of medicines.
- About 150 million rose plants are purchased by American gardeners annually.
- 85% of Americans claim the rose as their favorite flower.
- It is said that thorn less roses given to someone symbolizes “love at first sight.”
Image: Rose tree at St. Michael’s Church in Hildesheim © Leif Obornik