Roses Flower Meanings

Rose Flower Symbolism

Rose MeaningMore than any other flower, the rose has been prized for its beauty the world over. Symbolic associations with the rose have existed since the days of the ancient Romans and Greeks. Roses have been identified with love and passion since those times, beginning with their association with the goddesses Aphrodite, Isis and Venus. Cleopatra is said to have received Marc Anthony in a room literally knee-deep in roses.

The flower symbolism associated with roses is love, remembrance, passion (red); purity (white); happiness (pink); infidelity (yellow); unconscious beauty, and I love you. Wild roses have five petals. This has led to their symbolic connection to the wounds of Christ in Christian iconography. The rose also symbolizes the Virgin Mary herself, who was known as the "Mystic Rose." Find beautiful bouquets of roses to send to someone you love.

Rose SymbolismFor more on flower symbolism, see our recommended books from Amazon:
Folklore and Symbolism of Flowers, Plants and Trees
The Language of Flowers: Symbols And Myths
The Language of Flowers
The Meaning of Flowers
Forget-Me-Not: A Floral Treasury Sentiments and Plant Lore from the Language of Flowers

The History of Roses

There are fossil records dating roses back some 35 million years. Roses are native to the United States. Montana and Oregon have the oldest rose fossils. The rose has the most complex family tree of any known flower species with over 30,000 varieties.

Roses were first cultivated 5,000 years ago in Asian gardens. In the Orient, ladies carried rose petals in their purses and gentlemen made wine and herbal medicine with the flowers. Along with the name Orchid, Rose is one of the most popular names for girls in China. Confucius wrote that the emperor of China owned over 600 books on the cultivation of roses.

Rose MeaningsRoses were introduced to Europe during the Roman Empire and were thereafter used for ornamental purposes. Romans were known to carpet huge banquet halls with rose petals. Experts divide roses into two groups. “Old roses” are those cultivated in Europe before 1800. “Modern roses” have been cultivated since about the turn of the 19th century. Before cultivation, roses typically bloomed only once per year. Now roses are blooming somewhere every day of the year. (Photo courtesy of Oliver Herold, Wikimedia Commons)

Roses and Modern Culture

Over 4,000 songs have been written about roses. Roses are also the inspiration for everything from wallpaper to china patterns to fabric designs. Roses are a recurring theme in artwork, furniture, architecture and poetry.

Shakespeare mentions the rose at least 70 times in his plays and sonnets: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (Romeo and Juliet); “Of all flowers, methinks a rose is best” (The Two Noble Kinsmen) and “When I have plucked the rose, I cannot give it vital growth again” (Othello).

Rse SymbolismRoses are emblems of England and New York City. Modern rose symbolism is intimately connected to the color of the flower. Red roses symbolize love, remembrance, passion. White roses symbolize purity. Pink roses symbolize happiness. The essential oils from roses used for perfumes are more expensive than the oils of any other flower. The rose is, indeed, the queen of all flowers.

The Meaning of Roses in Chinese Art

The rose has been in cultivation since the beginning of Chinese history. Ladies carried rose petals in their purses and gentlemen made wine and herbal medicine with the petals. Along with the name Orchid, Rose is one of the most popular names for girls in China.

Rose Photos for Projects and Design

Need photos of roses? Please visit Dreamstime Stock Photography. Dreamstime is a distinguished leader in stock photography and a major supplier of high quality digital images at unbelievable prices. The Dreamstime database is renewed with thousands of fresh images and titles on a daily basis. See more photos here.

Grow Roses in Your Garden this Year

Find plants, trees and flowers at Nature Hills Nursery, Inc. Nature Hills Nursery offers one of the largest selections of high quality live plants and related products online, complete with extensive plant information, while maintaining an exceptional level of customer service.

Flower Bouquet Order Bouquets and Flowers
The extensive FloristOne catalog features flowers for every occasion and an extensive network of florists that allows for same day delivery to nearly all of the United States and Canada. Find beautiful bouquets of roses to send to someone you love. Nothing else communicates your sentiments quite as well as flowers. See our selection of bouquets and flowers here or go directly to the FloristOne website to see all flowers available.

©2008-2010 Living Arts Enterprises, LLC

Yeh, Ning. An Album of Chinese Brush Painting: Eighty Paintings and Ideas. Huntington Beach, CA: Ning Yeh's Art Studio, 1986.


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