Fun Rose Facts
by Sue Longhini, Consulting Rosarian, Denver Rose Society
Roses are everywhere! In fact, we see them so often that we may overlook them. References to and images of roses are found in fashion, art, and in song lyrics. They are tattooed onto skin, used as names, carved into buildings, symbolized in religion and mythology and pressed onto coins. Roses are also used in food and drink recipes, in cosmetics and perfumes, and so much more. Here are 20 interesting rose facts that you may not know!
*The world’s OLDEST cultivated, decorative plant is the rose! There is evidence of Rosa rosaceae dating back 5,000 years in Chinese and Japanese gardens. Theophrastus (382-287 BC) wrote about rose cultivation in ancient Greece¹.
*Rose FOSSILS of Rosa hilliae can be found in the Oligocene Florissant beds here in Colorado. According to the Colorado Geological Survey, the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument formed from volcanic eruptions 34 million years ago. Ejected ash preserved the ancient roses².
*The rose was designated the official NATIONAL FLOWER of the United States in 1986. It is also the state flower of New York, Oklahoma, Georgia, Iowa, North Dakota and the District of Columbia³.
*The rose is the NATIONAL FLOWER of Ecuador, Slovakia, Luxembourg, the Republic of Maldives, England, Iran, Iraq, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Romania. Alberta, Canada also claims the rose as its provincial flower⁴.
*The OLDEST known living rose is 1,205 years old. The ‘Rose of Hildesheim’ (LEFT), Rosa canina, is located in Hildesheim, Germany. It is 69 feet tall by 30 feet wide and can be found climbing the walls of a Catholic cathedral. The rose was thought to be established by King Louis the Pious in 815AD. Although the cathedral was destroyed during World War II, the roots of the rose survived and canes continued to grow against the rebuilt cathedral walls for the next 75 years⁵.
*According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the TALLEST CLIMBING rose is a ‘Cecile Brunner’ in Los Angeles, California. It has held the world record since 2004 at 91 feet⁶.
*The TALLEST (non-climbing) variety is the hybrid tea ‘Bewitched’ in La Puente, California. Earning the record in 2017, the height of the rose measured 18 feet, 8 inches⁷.
*In Tombstone, Arizona lives the LARGEST rose bush. It is a ‘Lady Banksia’ that was planted in 1885 during the silver mining boom. The main cane/trunk is 12 feet around and the rest of the rose has expanded to cover 9,000 square feet of the property⁸.
*In 2014, the Royal Canadian Mint produced a $5 SILVER COIN (LEFT) featuring an unfurling rose on one side. It’s current value is approximately $140. In 2016, Canadian artist Claudio D’Angelo created a $3 silver coin design featuring two blooms of the grandiflora rose ‘Queen Elizabeth’. The roses themselves were plated in-you guessed it-rose gold⁹!
* BLUE ROSE was created in 2018 by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Tianjin University in China. A strain of bacteria, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, was engineered to express blue pigment-producing enzymes upon injection into the petals of white roses. Because the color is short-lived and non-uniform, researchers will next try to engineer the roses themselves to produce the enzymes without the need for injection¹⁰.
*The MOST EXPENSIVE rose ever introduced was ‘Juliet’ (LEFT) by David Austin. Austin reported that the rose took him 15 years approximately $3 million to develop. It was unveiled at the 2007 Chelsea Flower Show in London and was sold for $5 million¹¹.
*The first PATENT issued for a plant was to Henry Bosenberg for the climbing rose ‘New Dawn’. It was issued by the United States Patent Office in August of 1931¹².
*The “WAR OF THE ROSES” was a series of English civil wars from 1455 to 1485. The war was named after the symbols used by the feuding sides, a white rose for the House of Yorkshire (York) and a red rose for the House of Lancaster¹³.
*International Flavors & Fragrances, Inc. of New York, New York collaborated with NASA to develop a new scent known as “SPACE ROSE” (LEFT). The miniature rose ‘Overnight Scentsation’ was flown aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery Flight STS-95 in 1998 in order to study the production of rose essential oils in microgravity. The company expected a shift in the scent of the rose because there would be no gravity to hold the oils in the stem. To the delight of the researchers, the rose produced an entirely new scent which went on to be used by Shiseido Cosmetics in a perfume named Zen¹⁴.
*A second rose was flown on a SPACE SHUTTLE in 2007. That rose wound up in the New Year’s Rose Parade in Pasadena, California¹⁵.
*The Golden Book of World Records has given a miniature rose named ‘Diamond Rose’ the SMALLEST BLOOM award. Hybridized by Sudhir Khetawat of India, its buds are the size of a grain of rice and the blooms are only 1cm in diameter¹⁶.
*The LARGEST BLOOM recorded was a pink rose by California hybridizer Nikita K. Rulhoksoffski. Displayed at a local rose show, the bloom measured 33 inches in diameter¹⁷.
*The largest ROSE BOUQUET was displayed at the NordWestZentrum shopping mall in Frankfurt am Main, Germany in 2006. It contained 156,940 roses¹⁸.
*The world’s largest WEDDING BOUQUET (LEFT) included 1500 flowers (500 of them roses) and was commissioned by Suresh Arulanantham Joachim of Mississauga, Canada in September of 2003. It was 197 feet long and weighed 202.8lbs. 79 bridesmaids and 47 groomsmen assisted with the bouquet¹⁹.
*The largest flower ARRANGEMENT/STRUCTURE was constructed in July 2018 in Tabacundo, Ecuador. 546,364 roses were used to create a replica of one of the country’s Cochasqui pyramid sites²⁰.