7 Fascinating Facts About Roses

Today more than any other day of the year, roses take center stage. Pink petals will be arranged, bouqets delivered, vases filled with sweet-scented flowers and long stems. While Valentine's Day is not exclusively a celebration of roses, there's no denying these lovely plants are ubiquitous on and around February 14th. And whether or not you have a Valentine to share them with, it's hard not to appreciate their beauty.

Why are roses the designated flower of love and passion? There's a unique and fascinating history surrounding these fragrant plants. In honor of Valentine's Day, The Humble Gardener is bringing you a round-up of the most interesting facts about roses. Impress friends and your valentine with your knowledge of plants and history! You'll never look at a bouquet or roses in quite the same way again.

1. The flower of love. Romance and roses have a long, interwined history. In Greek and Roman mythology, the rose was the symbol of the goddesses of love, Venus and Aphrodite. It's remained a prominent figure in literature and poetry on love, from Shakespeare to Oscar Wilde. Even fairy tales, such as the Grimm brothers' Beauty and the Beast, remind us of the strong association between love and roses.

2. Roman obsession. In Ancient Rome, Romans carpeted their banquet halls with petals, and it's said that Emperor Nero dazzled guests by showering them with roses. The story goes that the Emperor's rose extravaganza went a little overboard: guests nearly suffocated in a dense cloud of falling petals.

3. Everlasting love. The oldest known rose plant is still thriving after roughly 1,200 years. Even a World War II bombing couldn't destroy this bush, though it flattened the cathedral beside it in Hildesheim, Germany. The roots remained intact below the rubble, and shortly after, the roses re-appeared.

4. Medicinal value. Roses need not be viewed as purely ornamental plants. Their value extends far beyond aesthetic appeal. Rose hips (the fruit of the plant) are high in Vitamin C. Supplements and teas containing rose hips are said to relieve all sorts of physical ailments, from digestive issues to cancer.

5. Secret ingredient. You may have eaten a part of the rose plant before, without even being aware! Rose syrup, made from petals, is often found in scones and marshmallows, and Middle Eastern and Asian cooking incorporates rose water. Surprise your sweetie this year by delivering roses in the form of scones with this scrumptious Rose Petal Drop Scone recipe.

6. Natural perfume. Roses have long been prized for their aromatic quality. In the Middle Ages, wealthy women masked unpleasant body odor by carrying around bouquets of roses. When they did take a bath, nobility frequently freshened up the water with rose petals and oils. Today, rose water is a common ingredient in perfumes and scented beauty products.
7. Thousands of varieties. Forget the basic red-petaled rose. There are thousands of varieties out there! Most experts agree there are at least 13,000 identified types. You can see about 7,500 of them on display in Cavriglia, Italy. Roseto Fineschi, located in Tuscany, is the largest private rose garden in the world.