roses and rose petals





Jill gave me some beautiful roses from her garden. After nearly two weeks in a vase they started to fall apart, and when they were petals I loved them even more.

In botany-speak, petals are modified leaves that protect the reproductive part of the flower, the part containing pollen and tiny eggs called ovules. When the flower is pollinated and the ovules fertilized, the ovules turn into fruit. Together the petals are referred to as the corolla.

Rose petals are edible, the flavour reported to being a bit like strawberries and green apples. I should have used the petals in the photos for salad, instead of disposing of them in the compost. Studies in China have found rose petals - and other edible petals - to be very good for our health.

Scattered rose petals are used for romantic occasions. If you don't have your own they can be bought fresh or freeze dried. 


Roses feature in many fairy tales. The rose has a central part in the recent film of Beauty and the Beast. The story starts with a cold hearted prince who refuses the gift of a rose, so is turned into a fearsome beast, his servants into household objects. There is hope that they might change back, but after the last petal falls they will be like this forever. When the father of the heroine, Belle, steals a rose he is locked up in the castle. But Belle takes his place, and just as the last petal falls, the Beast redeems himself, and all is well.  

This film truly illustrates the line by poet William Carlos Williams: "It is at the edge of a petal that love waits."

Back in 2009 I posted a piece about a book I'd just read, called The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red. Rose Red was a dangerous house that killed people by enveloping them in a 'twisting, creeping choke' of instant jungle of red roses. Here roses are powerful and beautiful, but a malignant force for evil - until purity and goodness is restored, of course.

I don't know why we humans are programmed to love roses and rose petals so much. I guess this has considerable evolutionary value for the roses, ensuring they are pollinated, cultivated and propagated. So bees and other insects aren't the only pollinators in nature's system. We humans are also pollinators, responding to the bright colours, soft petals and ancient symbolism.

Comments

  1. I love how you knitted together the physical elements of the rose with the flower's mythology. I've never used the petals in salad or sugared them for use on cakes but that does seem much more poetic than sweeping them into the compost bin.

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    1. Poetic is a good way to describe this flower.

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  2. Sue, I cannot remember where you are, but isn't a reason to love those rose petals their fragrance? Especially when it lasts "forever?" You are ahead of me if you are gathering roses!

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    1. Hi Shady, I'm in Australia. I only have a couple of rose bushes, so am extra appreciative when friends give me roses from their garden.

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  3. What an interesting relationship we have with these beautiful blooms. The idea that we're also pollinators is intriguing and illustrates our symbiotic relationship with plants. I've heard this before about food crops like the potato which has used us to spread it all over the world but had not considered the same concept related to flowers.

    A single flow'r he sent me, since we met.
    All tenderly his messenger he chose;
    Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet -
    One perfect rose.

    I knew the language of the floweret;
    'My fragile leaves,' it said, 'his heart enclose.'
    Love long has taken for his amulet
    One perfect rose.

    Why is it no one ever sent me yet
    One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
    Ah no, it's always just my luck to get
    One perfect rose.

    Dorothy Parker

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    Replies
    1. I love Dorothy Parker, and this poem is wonderful and so apt in this context. So-o-o funny.

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  4. I want to read that book! I knew that roses are edible. The hips are especially nutritious, full of vitamin C. I once got more that I planned on, when I bit into a rose hip and discovered it was full of ants!

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    1. I recommend the book, it's very creepy. Like your ant story.

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  5. I have seen rose petals and rosewater in the shop but have never tried them. You have convinced me now to find some recipes and try them out soon.

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    1. I've used rosewater, bought, in fruit salad, but never done anything with the petals. Good luck with your culinary adventures, Denise.

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  6. The petals can be quite beautiful as they fall from the flower. Growing up, the grandmother of a Chinese friend of mine made sweet pastries stuffed with rose hips and rose petals.

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    1. sounds yummy and healthy. My grandmother was Russian so her pastries mostly had cabbage and potatoes in them, not nearly as exotic as your Chinese friend's pastries.

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  7. Replies
    1. I agree - we need to find a Chinese grandmother, or I do anyway, I'm no baker.

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