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Post new topic   Reply to topic    Irish Gardeners Forum Home -> Roses in Ireland

What exactly is a ROSE

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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 6:56 pm    Post subject: What exactly is a ROSE Reply with quote

A rose is a flowering shrub of the genus Rosa, and the flower of this shrub. There are more than a hundred species of wild roses, all from the northern hemisphere and mostly from temperate regions.
The species form a group of generally thorny shrubs or climbers, and sometimes trailing plants, reaching 2-5 m tall, rarely reaching as high as 20 m by climbing over other plants.

The name originates from Latin rosa, borrowed through Oscan from colonial Greek in southern Italy rhodion (Aeolic wrodion), from Aramaic wurrdā, from Assyrian wurtinnu, from Old Iranian *warda (cf. Avestan warda, Sogdian ward, Parthian wâr).

The leaves of most species are 5-15 cm long, pinnate, with (3-) 5-9 (-13) leaflets and basal stipules; the leaflets usually have a serrated margin, and often a few small thorns on the underside of the stem.
The vast majority of roses are deciduous, but a few (particularly in southeast Asia) are evergreen or nearly so.


The rose has always been valued for its beauty and fragrance and has a long history of symbolism and meaning.
The ancient Greeks and Romans identified the rose with their goddesses of love Aphrodite and Venus.
In Rome a wild rose would be placed on the door of a room where confidential matters were discussed.
The phrase sub rosa, or "under the rose", means to keep a secret—derived from this ancient Roman practice.

Early Christians identified the five petals of the rose with the five wounds of Christ their leaders were hesitant to adopt it because of its association with Roman excesses and pagan ritual.
The red rose was eventually adopted as a symbol of the blood of the Christian martyrs.
Roses also later came to be associated with the Virgin Mary.

Rose culture came into its own in Europe in the 1800's with the introduction of perpetual blooming roses from China.
There are currently thousands of varieties of roses developed for bloom shape, size, fragrance and even for lack of thorns.


Roses are ancient symbols of love and beauty.
The rose was sacred to a number of goddesses (including Isis and Aphrodite), and is often used as a symbol of the Virgin Mary.
Roses are so important that the word means pink or red in a variety of languages (such as Romance languages, Greek, and Polish).

The rose is the national flower of England and the United States, as well as being the symbol of England Rugby, and of the Rugby Football Union.
It is also the provincial flower of Yorkshire and Lancashire in England (the white rose and red rose respectively) and of Alberta (the wild rose), and the state flower of four US states: Iowa and North Dakota (R. arkansana), Georgia (R. laevigata), and New York (Rosa generally). Portland, Oregon counts "City of Roses" among its nicknames, and holds an annual Rose Festival.

Roses are ocassionally the basis of design for rose windows, such windows comprising five or ten segments (the five petals and five sepals of a rose) or multiples thereof; however most Gothic rose windows are much more elaborate and were probably based originally on the wheel and other symbolism.

A red rose (often held in a hand) is also a symbol of socialism or social democracy; it is also used as a symbol by the British and Irish Labour Parties, as well as by the French, Spanish (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party), Portuguese, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Brazilian, Dutch (Partij van de Arbeid) and European socialist parties.
This originates from the red rose used as a badge by the marchers in the May 1968 street protests in Paris.

The flowers of most species roses have five petals (with the exception of Rosa sericea which often has only four), usually white or pink, in a few species yellow or red. The ovary is inferior, developing below the petals and sepals.

The aggregate fruit of the rose is a berry-like structure called a rose hip.
Rose hips are sometimes eaten, mainly for their vitamin C content.
They are usually pressed and filtered to make rose-hip syrup, as the fine hairs surrounding the seeds are unpleasant to eat (resembling itching powder). They can also be used to make herbal tea, jam, jelly and marmalade.
Rose species that produce open-faced flowers are attractive to pollinating bees and other insects, thus more apt to produce hips.
Many of the domestic cultivars are so tightly petalled that they do not provide access for pollination.
The hips of most species are red, but a few (e.g. Rosa pimpinellifolia) have dark purple to black hips.
Each hip comprises an outer fleshy layer, the hypanthium, which contains 5-160 "seeds" (technically dry single-seeded fruits called achenes) embedded in a matrix of fine, but stiff, hairs.
Rose hips of some species, especially the Dog Rose (Rosa canina) and Rugosa Rose (Rosa rugosa), are very rich in vitamin C, among the richest sources of any plant.
The hips are eaten by fruit-eating birds such as thrushes and waxwings, which then disperse the seeds in their droppings.
Some birds, particularly finches, also eat the seeds.

Most roses have thorns or prickles.
The thorns are typically sickle-shaped hooks, which aid the rose in hanging onto other vegetation when growing over it.
Some species such as Rosa rugosa and R. pimpinellifolia instead have densely packed straight spines, probably an adaptation to reduce browsing by animals, but also possibly an adaptation to trap wind-blown sand and so reduce erosion and protect their roots (both of these two species grow naturally on coastal sand dunes).
Despite the presence of the thorns, roses are frequently browsed by deer.
A few species of roses only have vestigial thorns that have no points.


Roses are subject to several diseases.
The most serious is rose rust (Phragmidium mucronatum), a species of rust fungus, which can defoliate the plant.
More common, though less debilitating, are rose black spot, caused by the fungus Diplocarpon rosae, which makes circular black spots on the leaves in summer, and powdery mildew, caused by Sphaerotheca pannosa.
These fungal diseases are best solved by a preventative spray program rather than by trying to cure an infection after it is visible.
Roses are also used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species (moth).


Roses are one of the most popular garden shrubs and are also among the most common flowers sold by florists.
Roses are of great economic importance both as a crop for florists' use and for use in perfume.

Many thousands of rose hybrids and cultivars have been bred and selected for garden use, mostly double-flowered with many or all of the stamens mutated into additional petals.
As long ago as 1840 a collection numbering over one thousand different cultivars, varieties and species was possible when a rosarium was planted by Loddiges nursery for Abney Park Cemetery, an early Victorian garden cemetery and arboretum in England.
Twentieth-century rose breeders generally emphasized size and color, producing large, attractive blooms with little or no scent.
Many wild and "old-fashioned" roses, by contrast, have a strong sweet scent.

Roses thrive in temperate climates, though certain species and cultivars can flourish in sub-tropical and even tropical climates, especially when grafted onto appropriate root-stock.

Rose classification

There is no single system of classification for garden roses.
In general, however, roses are placed in one of three main groups:

Wild Roses - The wild roses includes the following species and some of their hybrids.
* Rosa canina - Dog Rose, Briar Bush
* Rosa dumalis - Glaucous Dog Rose
* Rosa eglanteria (syn. R. rubiginosa) - Eglantine, Sweet Brier
* Rosa gallica - Gallic Rose, French Rose
* Rosa gigantea (syn. R. x odorata gigantea)
* Rosa glauca (syn. R. rubrifolia) - Redleaf Rose
* Rosa laevigata (syn. R. sinica) - Cherokee Rose, Camellia Rose, Mardan Rose
* Rosa multiflora - Multiflora Rose
* Rosa persica (syn. Hulthemia persica, R. simplicifolia)
* Rosa roxburghii - Chestnut Rose, Burr Rose
* Rosa rugosa - Rugosa Rose, Japanese Rose
* Rosa stellata - Gooseberry Rose, Sacramento Rose
* Rosa virginiana (syn. R. lucida) - Virginia Rose

Old Garden Roses - Most old garden roses are classified into one of the following (ordered by approximate age - oldest first):
*Alba - Literally "white roses", derived from R. arvensis and the closely allied R. alba.
These are some of the oldest garden roses, probably brought to Great Britain by the Romans.
Once-flowering. Examples: 'Semi-plena', 'White Rose of York'.
*Gallica - The Gallica roses have been developed from R. gallica which is a native of central and southern Europe.
They flower once in the summer. Examples: 'Cardinal de Richelieu', 'Charles de Mills', 'Rosa Mundi' (R. gallica versicolor).
*Damask - Robert de Brie is given credit for bringing them from Persia to Europe sometime between 1254 and 1276.
Summer Damasks (crosses between Gallica roses and R. phoenicea) bloom once in summer. Autumn Damasks (Gallicas crossed with R. moschata) bloom later, in the autumn.
Examples: 'Ispahan', 'Madame Hardy'.
*Centifolia (or Provence) - These roses, raised in the seventeenth century in the Netherlands, are named for their "one hundred" petals. Once-flowering.
Examples: 'Centifolia', 'Paul Ricault'.
*Moss - Closely related to the centifolias, these have a mossy excrescence on the stems and sepals.
Once-flowering. Example: 'Comtesse de Murinais', 'Old Pink Moss'.
*China - The China roses brought with them an amazing ability to bloom repeatedly throughout the summer and into late autumn.
Four China roses ('Slater's Crimson China', 1792; 'Parsons' Pink China', 1793; 'Hume's Blush China', 1809; and 'Parks' Yellow Tea Scented China', 1824) were brought to Europe in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries which brought about the creation of the repeat flowering old garden roses and later the modern garden roses.
Examples: 'Old Blush China', 'Mutabilis'.
*Portland - These are named after the Duchess of Portland who received (from Italy in 1800) a rose then known as R. paestana or 'Scarlet Four Seasons' Rose' (now known simply as 'The Portland Rose').
This group was developed from that rose. Repeat-flowering. Example: 'James Veitch', 'Rose de Rescht', 'The Portland Rose'.
*Bourbon - They originated on l'Île de Bourbon (now called Réunion). Probably the result of a cross between the Autumn Damask and the 'Old Blush China'. Introduced in France in 1823.
Repeat-flowering. Examples: 'Louise Odier', 'Mme. Pierre Oger', 'Zéphirine Drouhin'.
*Hybrid Perpetual - The dominant class of roses in Victorian England, they were derived to a great extent from the Bourbons.
Repeat-flowering. Examples: 'Ferdinand Pichard', 'Reine Des Violettes'.
*Tea - The result of crossing two of the original China Roses ('Hume's Blush China' and 'Parks' Yellow Tea Scented China') with various Bourbons and Noisette roses.
Somewhat more tender than other old garden roses (most likely because of R. gigantea in the ancestry of the Parks rose), teas are repeat-flowering roses although their fragrance is not always a tea scent. Example: 'Lady Hillingdon'.
*Bermuda "Mystery" Roses - A group of several dozen "found" roses that have been grown in Bermuda for at least a century.
The roses have significant value and interest for those growing roses in tropical and semi-tropical regions, since they are highly resistant to both nematode damage and the fungal diseases that plague rose culture in hot, humid areas, and capable of blooming in hot and humid weather.
Most of these roses are likely Old Garden Rose cultivars that have otherwise dropped out of cultivation, or sports thereof.
They are "mystery roses" because their "proper" historical names have been lost.
Tradition dictates that they are named after the owner of the garden where they were rediscovered.
*Miscellaneous - There are also a few smaller classes (such as Scots, Sweet Brier) and some climbing classes of old roses (including Ayrshire, Climbing China, Laevigata, Sempervirens, Noisette, Boursault, Climbing Tea, and Climbing Bourbon).
Those classes with both climbing and shrub forms are often grouped together.

Modern Garden Roses - Classification of modern roses can be quite confusing because many modern roses have old garden roses in their ancestry and their form varies so much.
The classifications tend to be by growth and flowering characteristics, such as "large-flowered shrub", "recurrent, large-flowered shrub", "cluster-flowered", "rambler recurrent", or "ground-cover non-recurrent".
Many of the most popular modern cultivars can however be assigned to one of these two groups:
*Hybrid Tea - The favourite florist's rose, with typically one to at most five or six large flowers per stem, the flower with numerous tightly arranged petals with reflexed tips.
They are favoured in small gardens in formal situations, and for buttonhole roses. Examples: 'Peace', 'Mr. Lincoln'
* Floribunda - Flowers often smaller, in large clusters of ten or more (often many more) on each stem.
These tend to give a more prominent display from a distance, so are more often used in large bedding schemes in public parks and similar spaces. Examples: 'Dainty Maid', 'Iceberg', 'Tuscan Sun'.


According to the Victorian "Language of flowers", different coloured roses each have their own symbolic meaning:

* Red: love
* Pink: grace, lesser feelings of love
* Dark Pink: gratitude
* Light Pink: admiration, sympathy
* White: innocence, purity, secrecy, friendship, reverence and humility.

* Yellow: Yellow roses generally mean dying love or platonic love. In German-speaking countries, however, they can mean jealousy and infidelity.
* Yellow with red tips: Friendship, falling in love
* Orange: passion
* Burgundy: beauty
* Blue: mystery

* Green: calm
* Black: slavish devotion (as a true black rose is impossible to produce)
* Purple: protection (paternal/maternal love)

The rose came to symbolize the Republic of Georgia's non-violent bid for freedom during its Rose Revolution.

The symbol of a rose can also refer to the red rose of Lancaster, and the white rose of York, from the Wars of the Roses period.

Mythology and superstition

* In some pagan mythologies, no undead or ghostly creatures (particularly vampires) may cross the path of a wild rose.
It was thought that to place a wild rose on a coffin of a recently deceased person would prevent them from rising again.

* Since the earliest times, the rose has been an emblem of silence:
In Greek Mythology, Eros presents a rose to the god of silence.
In a Celtic folk legend, a wandering, screaming spirit was silenced by presenting the spirit with a wild rose every new moon.

* Roses were used in very early times as a very potent ingredient in love philters.

* According to Indian mythology, one of the wives of Vishnu was found inside a rose.

* In Rome it was often customary to bless roses on "Rose Sunday".

* In the east it is still believed that the first rose was created from a tear of the prophet Mohammed, and it is further believed that on a certain day in the year the rose has a heart of gold.

* In Scotland, if a white rose bloomed in autumn it was a token of an early marriage.

* The red rose, it is believed by many religions, cannot grow over a grave.

* Rose leaves thrown into a burning flame are said to give good luck.

* If a young girl had more than one lover, it is believed in one mythology, she should take rose leaves and write the names of her lovers upon them before casting them into the wind. The last leaf to reach the ground would bear the name of the lover whom she should marry.

* It is believed that if a rose bush were pruned on St. John's Eve, it would be guaranteed to bloom in the autumn.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License It uses material from the Wikipedia article

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for this informative information about Roses.Roses are my favourite plants among other plants.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do they need a specific rose feed or just a high potassium feed?
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would appreciate some rose advice as I don't know that much about them.
I have a Rosa Paul Scarlet that is about 15 years old and it seems to be flagging. The place where it is planted is due for redevelopment and I will not want the rose there. Is it worth trying to relocate it? Should I just scrap it? Can I propagate from it before I dig it up, or is it grafted to another rootstock?
All responses will be appreciated.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daydreamer, I would recommend any plant food that is high in potassium.
Potassium encourages fruiting / flowering / disease resistance and is the most important nutrient in roses.

Potassium = K = the Last number of fertiliser ratios:

N: P : K
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