The rose family, Rosaceae comprises of many genera with the true rose genus, Rosa, comprising of around 140 species. 95 of these species are known to be of Asian origin, a further 18 species of North American origin, and, the remainder of European and Northwest African origin. There are over 40,000 roses on the International Rose Register and many attempts have been made by rose societies and breeders to classify these. The simplest way to categorize roses however is according to whether they are modern garden roses, old garden roses or wild roses. Then come sub-categories for bush roses, shrub roses, climbing roses, miniature roses and non-climbing roses.

Paleontologists claim roses date back to the Tertiary period, 70 million years ago, and, in North America, roses have been traced as far back as 40 million years. One thing is for certain, this long history has also meant that the rose has taken on a lot of symbolism. Known as the Queen of flowers, roses were introduced to France and England by the Romans and later became important symbols on royal heraldry.

Today, the most popular rose is the large flowered rose with classically shaped red, yellow, pink or white fragrant blooms. Most species of rose feature blooms with five petals which are divided into two lobes. Roses are also characterized by their thorns, or large prickles, that grow from the plant’s stem. Some species of rose also bear rose hips, a fruit that can be made in to jelly, brewed into a tea or pressed in to a syrup. The essential oil of rose petals, otherwise known as attar, is also a precious commodity.

Roses are grown for the florist trade. Commercial cut roses are harvested in bud and refrigerated until sold. When growing and caring for roses, a rose bed should benefit from at least five hours of full sunlight every day. Roses root deeply in the ground so require soil that is deep enough for roots to plant firmly in place. Roses grow best in slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5, and, depending on the climate, require a minimum of two inches of water per week as well as frequent fertilizing and pruning.

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(Images provided by AFIF)