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Different Fragrances of Roses

Besides their beauty, roses are known for their fragrance. One of the first things people do when entering a rose garden is to bend over and breathe in deeply. However, sometimes a rose doesn’t smell like a rose. Generally, roses with the strongest scent are darker in color and have more petals. On the other hand, white and yellow roses smell more like nasturtiums, violets or lemons. Orange shades tend to have fruit, violet or clover scents.


Musk is a popular rose fragrance that has a delicate, yet lingering scent. Ironically, musk can also smell like an animal, such as the scent of a deer’s sexual organs at the base of its tail marking its territory. Several hybrid musk roses known for their musk fragrances include Pax, Felicia, Cornelia Buff Beauty, Daphne and Vanity.

Fruit Fragrances

The hybrid tea rose “Rosemary Harkness” has the fresh aroma of passion fruit and is orange-pink. Comtesse de Provence is the name of a Romantica rose that smells like sun-ripened apricots. This rose has enormous pastel coral blossoms and needs more water than the average rose for supporting its huge flowers. “Sweet Juliet” is an Austin English rose that has a scent of lemon mixed with some grapefruit smell. Its flowers are pale apricot, which fades to a creamy buff. Another English rose, known as “Jude the Obscure,” smells and looks like peach ice cream.

Spicy Fragrances

Although the rose known as Honey Perfume suggests a perfume that smells like honey, it actually has a warm, spicy smell. Sun Sprinkles is a miniature rose also known for its spicy, as well as musky, fragrance. This rose, which produces blooms that are vivid yellow, is often used as a garden edger. The hybrid tea rose known as Elle also has a spicy fruity fragrance. Elle produces pastel pink flowers that are excellent cutting flowers. Another hybrid tea rose, Double Delight, has a spicy-sweet aroma with blossoms ranging in color from off-white to light pink. Just as its name suggests, Wild Spice roses smell spicy.

Unusual Fragrances

Besides fruit and herb aromas, there are some roses with smells that are even more unusual. These include roses with smells as diverse as honey, pepper, wine, tea, fern or moss and honeysuckle. The Rosa Moschata is an example of one of the many honey-smelling roses. Roses with a pepper scent include China roses, such as The Bourbons Maggie and La Reine des Violettes. The deep purple-red Gallicas varieties such as Tuscany have a wine scent. Tea roses are so-named because they smell like fresh tea leaves.

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