Today I am writing about my favourite flowers: roses. I love all roses, their look, colours, smell, their taste. Most roses you come across nowadays are cultivated, hybrid roses. These often look a bit, how do I put this, more complicated. More leaves, deeper and sometimes downright mind boggling colours, but often less fragrant. In that respect today’s plant, the dog rose, Rosa canina, remains my absolute favourite. She can simply intoxicate you with her wonderful scent
Dog rose is more than a pretty face. She has many medicinal properties. Internally, she strengthens your immune system and helps you get over fatigue. She helps you recover from numerous inflammatory processes and even aids your digestion. Famous is the vitamin C content of her fruits, which we know as rosehips. Many of us Dutchies grew up with Roosvicee, a syrup made from rose hips. Externally, dog rose is often used for wounds and of course in cosmetics.
When discussing the magical properties of roses, it should come as no surprise to anyone that dog rose is used for love magic. Even today, roses are still the standard flowers to give to your loved one. Divination is another preferred magical purpose of the wild rose. Use rose petals in healing mixes to give the whole thing more power. Those same leaves also bring good luck.
Dog rose is a shrub that can grow up to 5 metres high. It has long branches that hang down in arcs. These branches are green, sometimes reddish, and carry large hooked spines with a broad base that you better treat with respect. The leaves are medium green, petiolate, odd-pinnate and consist of 5 to 7 ovate leaflets with a acute apex and a serrated margin. There are often small spines on the petioles.
The flowers are large (3 to 4.5 cm in diameter), white to pink in colour and sometimes grow alone, sometimes with up to 10 flowers together. The flowers have 5 petals and many yellow stamens. After flowering, the false fruits, called rosehips, develop. These are ultimately red in colour, oval to ovoid, up to 2.5 cm long and up to 2 cm wide. The rose hips contain achenes containing the seeds.
There is so much to tell about roses that it is impossible to include it all. I’ll therefore pick out a number of interesting facts.
Roses have been cultivated for their beauty for thousands of years and eaten for just as long. Remains of rose hips have been found in prehistoric stomach contents and storage jars.
Hybrid species have not been cultivated for very long. This practice only started in the 18th century. Until then, people stuck to wild rose varieties.
In ancient times, just about every mythological tradition had some sort of involvement with roses. This is especially true for the Romans and Greeks, but the Indians, Egyptians and Germans also mention the rose in their stories.
Christianity at first made an effort to get rid of roses because of their pagan past. As we can tell, that didn’t work out for them at all. They ended up embracing the plant and her flower with its 5 petals came to symbolize the wounds of Christ. Today, the flower symbolises, among other things, martyr’s blood and is an attribute of both Mary and Saint Therese of Lieux. But you could actually write a whole book about the symbolism of the rose in Christianity.
Rose hips were used against scurvy.
A red rose in a clenched fist is a worldwide symbol for the socialist movement.
The rose symbolizes love, joy and beauty and is probably the most used flower in poetry and perhaps also in prose.
Roses are not only associated with impermanence but also with resurrection and have therefore been popular in funeral rites from time immemorial.
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