No matter how you try to spin it, you cannot separate Valentine’s Day from the red rose. It has been associated with love and beauty in almost every culture for thousands of years. In classic Greek mythology the rose was stained red by the blood of the love goddess Aphrodite, herself. The ancient Romans cultivated Rosa gallica and featured its blooms in the wedding ritual both by decorating the bridal couple and decorating the centerpieces of the wedding feast. In North America the native tribes gathered wild roses for courtship as well as medicinal use. A ghazal written by a Persian mystic Hafez tells it is the beauty of the rose that causes the nightingale to sing. By the medieval period, the rose was associated with the purity of the Virgin Mary in Christian mythology.
In the colonial period, William Penn brought English roses back to the Americas in 1699 and John Adams planted the first rosebush at the famed White House garden. This doesn’t relate so much to the history of the rose as a token of love, but I think it’s a cool fact.
Rose hips are a widely known source of vitamin C which can help to stimulate the immune system. And distilled rose oil is used topically for skin care: it is an astringent and can help to reduce redness in skin. It is also believed to work to rejuvenate aging skin and can help reduce fine wrinkles.
Roses are known as an effective cure for “woman’s problems.” The growing tips of rose plants are full of plant bioflavonoids which help to stimulate estrogen production. This can increase libido in women and ease menstrual difficulties. A study in Taiwan showed that drinking rose tea significantly eased the symptoms of dysmenorrhea in adolescent girls.