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Sweet Roses Blooming

This article first appeared in the 2/14/20 edition of the Davis Enterprise

Sweet Roses Blooming

orange and pink roses blossoming in a botanical garden. Photo by Luke Barnard.

Sweet Roses Blooming



By Sara Thompson

Special to the Enterprise


Roses are a common sight around Valentine’s Day, being a popular gift to romantic partners, friends, family, coworkers, etc.  Roses are hardy plants that are grown all over the world, and have deep, historical symbolism across cultures.


Most species of rose are native to Asia, with some native species also growing in Africa, Europe, and North America.  Over the centuries, several hybrid variations have been cultivated making them available to grow most anywhere.  Roses are hardy, which has helped with their expansion to various continents and countries.  They can also be grown as shrubs or climbing, such as on a wall, bench, or trellis.  Either way they are grown, roses have a very distinctive feature, their thorns.  Technically, rose “thorns” are classified as prickles because they come from the outermost layer of the plant, the epidermis, whereas true thorns come from shoots which are a completely different structure on a plant.  These structures evolved to help protect the plant from being eaten by wildlife, and now to deter picking by human hands.  Roses come in a variety of colors, with the most common being red, pink, white, and yellow.  Other colors can be created by making hybrids of the other colors, or by dying the petals of the plant.   


Roses have been a symbol of love for centuries.  The Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, was associated with roses through her mythology and stories.  The same symbolism continued with when the Romans adopted the deity and named her Venus.  During the 17th century a system known as “floriography” was flourishing, which was the means to communicate to others by means of flower arranging.  This movement cemented roses as the symbol of emotions that continues today.  Different colors of roses would mean different things from romantic love, to loss support, even just a friendly “hi” from a friend or acquaintance.  Although roses still hold much of this symbolism, most people do not remember what color means what and are happy to receive any color.


Roses also have various other uses.  Rose petals and stems have a strong rose oil used in perfumes.  Rose petals can also be dried and mixes with other plants and herbs for tea or potpourri.  Rose water is made from steeping rose petals in water.  The water can be used in food items such as desserts, ice screams, jams, or most anything a chef or confectioner can dream up. 


Now the rose is still used as a symbol of love and affection, but it does not need to be romantic love, but love for friends, colleagues, or family.  Explorit staff hopes you have a happy Valentine’s Day, and that you learned something new about one of the most recognized symbols of the holiday.  


Explorit's coming events:


  • Visit our Light & Sound exhibit during our public hours on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday from 1-5pm. Admission is $5 per person, free for ages 2 and under, Members, teachers, and ASTC.


  • Become a member of Explorit!  Membership grants you free visits to Explorit’s regular public hours, discounts on events, camps, and workshops, and gives you ASTC benefits.  For more information or to purchase or renew your membership visit or call Explorit at 530-756-0191.


  • Come find Explorit at the following community events: Duck Days Saturday, February 22; Children’s Activity Faire Tuesday, February 25; and Women in STEM-Leap In, at Peregrine School Saturday, February 29.


  • Pi Day Celebration! Saturday, March 14 from 10am-5pm.  Admission is $6 for Members/$8 for Non-Members for a day of circle and pi fun! No passes.


  • Extended public hours: 1-5pm every day during the week of April 6-10.  Regular hours resume Saturday, April 11.


  • Enrollment still available for Explorit’s Nature Bowl team.  This is an afterschool science team from students grades 3-6.  Call (530) 756-0191 to register.  The $25 fee covers weekly meetings and a t-shirt.



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