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Rose – Pocket Herbal

Rose – Pocket Herbal

Rosa species –  Rosaceae family

In the language of flowers, also known as floriography, a gift of a red rose symbolized love. In pre-Victorian times however, this offering was more likely to find its way to the dinner table on a plate than in a vase. Traditionally, roses were grown for their nutritional and medicinal value. Apple-scented rose leaves were once brewed as a flavorful tea, soft pink rose petals colored salads and rosehips were cooked into sweet syrups children begged to sample. Roses taste as sweet as they smell. The old fashioned scented roses that have been grown organically or wild brier roses are  perfect for kitchen use.

The best part of having rose in the kitchen was its generous dose of vitamin C. Even today, pharmacies sell vitamin C tablets that boast of their rose hip content. Rose hips have more than ascorbic acid to offer; they are also high in iron. The key to assimilating iron in the body is to couple it with vitamin C. For people who battle anemia, rose hips are a treasure trove of nutrition.

Roses are valued for by aromatherapists and perfumers. Roses offer bass notes that linger in the senses long after the high notes have dissolved. Aromatherapists find rose soothing to the nervous system, an expert mender of the cracks in broken spirits.

Attar of roses is the name of the pure essential oil of rose petals. As it takes 10,000 rose petals to make one pound of attar of roses, the mixture is very expensive. Rose oil is cheaper but serves as a poor substitute as it is altered with high amounts of artificially produced phenethyl alcohol. This additive naturally occurs in many scented flowers and is of interest to biologists due to its antimicrobial properties. Phenethyl alcohol is also present in rose geranium essential oil. This offers aromatherapists an inexpensive substitute for rose attar.

Roses are famous for lifting spirits and mending alliances. The heady scent of its flowers have stirred the dreams of the lovelorn for centuries. Knowing how good roses are for the body may add another layer of meaning to this gift from a suitor. The long stemmed rose can be interpreted as symbolic for the feeling of love and wishes of good health.

Sue Sierralupe

Sue Sierralupé is a Certified Master Herbalist, Master Gardener and Sustainable Landscape Specialist. She is the clinic manager and lead herbalist at Occupy Medical clinic. Sue is author of The Pocket Herbal: Medicinal Plants that Changed the World and co-author of The Practical Herbalist Herbal Folios series. Follow her blog at Herbalism Manifesto for commentary on herbs, parenting, nutrition and a whole lot more.

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