Roses are beloved garden flowers and a symbol of affection and honor for a wide range of human events, both celebratory and somber. One of the oldest plants under human cultivation, all modern roses derive some part of their DNA from one or more of eight rose species that were native to Europe and Asia. All roses fall into one of three form classifications, being either bush, climbing or shrub roses. However, more than two centuries of breeding and hybridizing have served to produce many thousands of rose species and cultivars, each with a unique mix of characteristics.
All roses have a flower head that is round in shape and is symmetrical across its face and down its vertical axis. The flower emanates from a central ovary the sits at the center of the bloom under the petals and between the green downward pointing sepals. The petals, no matter the number, distribute themselves evenly around the central ovary, anthers and stamens.
Rose petals range in shape from a pointed cone to a rounded tear shape. Some lay flat while the edges of others curl up or under. Roses can come with as few as five to as many as 60 petals overlapping and layered on each flower head. While the number and color of petals varies, their texture is shockingly similar. Rose petals are very finely textured and veined but feel smooth and slightly cool to the touch. They have a silky nap to them that is very soft and almost imperceptible.
Roses come in a vast array of colors and in a large number of varying hues within the same color. The petals can be bi-color or tri-color and bloom and appear in nearly every color save blue and black. Some rose hybrid plants produce blooms with petals that are speckled, stippled or striped in pattern with contrasting hues.
Prized for their rich, spicy-sweet scent, roses are often grown for their smell, but many varieties, particularly highly interbred modern species, do not produce what we come to think of as the traditional rose aroma. Most modern roses have a scent, but not the same heady, deep aroma of old-fashioned garden roses such as tea and grandiflora. Roses with larger bloom heads and thicker, more velvety-textured petals are thought to produce more robust fragrance.