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Rose – Symbolism and Meaning

One of the most recognizable flowers in the world, the rose is widely regarded as the best representation of love. However, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to roses. It has an incredibly rich and interesting history and it is used widely in the area of medicine. The rose is a flower that deserves more than just a cursory glance.

About the Rose

Rose flower

One of the most beloved flowers in the world, roses have been revered throughout history and they continue to play a very important part. The old English word rose comes from the Latin word rosa which most probably originates from the Greek and Italian rhodon. The rose is considered the “queen of the garden.”

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Fossil evidence indicates that the rose has been around for more than 30 million years. The genus Rosa has over a hundred species spread all over the world. Today, roses can be found as far as Alaska and Northern Africa. Roses were probably first cultivated in China 5,000 years ago

During the Roman period, the flower was grown extensively throughout the Middle East. Roses were used not only for medicinal purposes and perfume, but the flower was also a staple in celebrations such as weddings. At one time, the nobility of Rome established large public rose gardens.

blue rose

Roses are one of only three flowers which have the distinction of being mentioned in the Bible. The other two flowers are camphire and lilies. Although there are more than a hundred species, for years rose breeders have tried their hardest to create a blue rose and in 2004, they finally succeeded.

Prior to the existence of the blue rose, florists would fill the demand by dyeing white varieties and selling them in a blue garb. The blue rose christened Applause, contains almost a hundred percent blue pigment in its petals and is truly a sight to behold.

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Rose Symbolism

Rose flower symbolism explained

Roses are associated with several symbolic meanings. These can vary depending on the color of the rose:

  • The red rose signifies enduring passion and love
  • The white rose signifies innocence
  • The pink rose signifies gratitude, admiration, and appreciation
  • The purple rose signifies love at first sight and enchantment
  • The yellow rose expresses joy and friendship

In general, roses can be seen as symbols of eternal love, passion and appreciation. This is why they’re the most popular flower on Valentine’s Day,  and are common in bridal bouquets and for gifting to a loved one.

Rose Facts

Rose wedding bouquet
  • For hundreds of years, the rose has been widely accepted as a symbol of love, passion, sympathy as well as sorrow.
  • The rose is the official flower of four states: Iowa, Georgia, North Dakota, and New York.
  • Greeks and Romans have always associated roses with the goddesses Venus and Aphrodite.
  • Roses were used to convey messages without words. The Latin expression “sub rosa” which means “under the rose”, means to tell something in secret.
  • In ancient Rome, a wild rose was often placed on the door of a room where sensitive and restricted business was discussed.
  • June, the month when most weddings take place, is National Rose Month.
  • Roses are often given as gifts during the 15th wedding anniversary.
  • In Medieval times, the rose was a symbol of power. Charlemagne, the King of Franks, grew roses at Aix-la-Chapelle.
  • During the Renaissance period, the rose was often connected with numerology. A rose with eight petals was a symbol of renewal and birth.
  • In Freemasonry, each of the three roses is a symbol of the guiding principles – Light, Love, and Life.
  • In alchemy, a rose with seven petals was a symbol of order, acceptance, and inclusion.
  • In mythology, the rose is often associated with the goddess of love, Aphrodite. She was often portrayed embellished with roses from her feet to her head. It is also mentioned that a rose bush grew where Adonis blood was spilled. He was Aphrodite’s lover.
  • In Christina mythology, a rose bush was said to have also grown at Christ’s feet during his death.

Uses of the Rose

Uses of rose

The fabled rose, aside from being so enjoyable to look at and smell, also as a lot of anti-inflammatory, soothing, and cooling properties that make them ideal ingredients for various remedies and beauty products.



The medical information on is provided for general educational purposes only. This information should in no way be used as a substitute for medical advice from a professional.

In herbal medicine, rose petals make excellent mild laxatives and is a good tonic for the heart and also for lowering cholesterol. Rose petals also have an antiseptic nature that makes them useful in the treatment of incisions, rashes, bruises, and wounds. When taken internally, the anti-inflammatory properties make the rose an excellent treatment for ulcers and sore throats.

Rose also has the power to lower your body temperature and help bring down a fever. It also helps relieve spasms and has excellent antiviral qualities. In addition, rose petals can help regulate delayed menstrual cycles.


While many people may still not be familiar with using rose petals as an ingredient in cooking, they are commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine. Turkish delight is one of the most popular examples of a food that uses rose for flavoring. Ras El Hanout, a North African spice mix, also uses dried rose petals, among many other savory spices, to flavor food.

Rose hips or dried rose petals, can be easily steeped in hot water to make a delicate rose tea. Rose petals can also be used to infuse various beverages such as juices and lemonades. Candied rose petals are also the perfect garnish for cakes and desserts. Fresh rose petals, on the other hand, make the perfect addition to mixed green salads and fruit salads.


Known as a symbol of beauty, it is not a surprise that roses are often used as an ingredient in various beauty products. Rosewater makes a great toner and rose petals have antibacterial properties that prevent various skin infections. They help moisturize skin, remove dark circles around the eyes, nourish the scalp, and enhance the radiance of your skin.

Rose Cultural Significance

The rose’s colorful and long history has seen it featured in various works of art and to this day it has a cultural significance that cannot be denied. The earliest known painting of a rose was found in Crete, Greece in 1600 B.C.

The rose’s popularity was such that even the beloved poet and playwright Sir William Shakespeare included the rose in Romeo and Juliet, in the famous line: What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

The War of the Roses was a civil war in England that lasted more than 30 years. The war received its name from the red roses, which symbolized Lancaster and white roses, which represented Yorkshire.  These two were the opposing sides. When the war finally ended and the two sides united in harmony, their emblem showcased both roses.

On “The Bachelor”, the female contestants compete for a rose at each ceremony.

In November 1986, then-President Ronald Reagan made the rose United States’ national flower emblem while standing in the famous White House Rose Garden.

Roses also feature prominently in fairytales and stories, often as a symbol of passion and love. The beloved fairytale “Beauty and the Beast” is one such example.

To Wrap It Up

Beautiful and popular, the rose comes in different colors and sizes, and has been valued since ancient times. The rose is used not just for decorations, and bouquets, but is also a popular ingredient in beauty products and is featured prominently in cuisines across the world. It remains one of the most dominant symbols of love and passion.

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Dani Rhys
Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education, and has also studied Political Science, Ancient History and Literature. She has a wide range of interests ranging from ancient cultures and mythology to Harry Potter and gardening. She works as the chief editor of Symbol Sage but also takes the time to write on topics that interest her.