Roses have been cultivated for thousands of years. In fact, the oldest living rose, which grows on the wall of the Cathedral of Hildesheim in Germany, is believed to be 1,000 years old.
Ancient Romans uses rose water in their bathing rituals, woven into wreaths, and during festivals. In their mythology, roses were created by Venus, the Goddess of Love, when she cut her ankles on a thorn bush and the drops of blood created red roses. In Greece, Homer’s Iliad said that rose oil was used to anoint the body of Hector before burial. In ancient Egypt, Cleopatra was said to bath in rosewater everyday.
In medieval times, roses were grown in monasteries and grew and popularity. In the 15th century, the warring factions of the royal family in England used roses as their symbols. The Yorks were symbolized by a white rose and the Lancasters were symbolized by the red rose. This war became known as the War of the Roses.
Today, there are over three hundred species of roses and thousands of different cultivars. Experts estimate that over 80 million stems of roses are sold every year on Valentine’s Day. In the essential oil industry, Rosa damascena is typically used to create one of the most expensive essential oils in the world. It takes about 10,000 Damask Roses to produce 5 mL of essential oil. The petals are so delicate, they are distilled the same day as harvesting. The aroma is characterized by Citronellol and Geraniol, two of its primary constituents.