Rosa × damascena, more commonly known as the
Damask rose, or
sometimes as the rose of Castile, is a rose hybrid, derived from Rosa
gallica and Rosa moschata. Further DNA analysis has shown that a
third species, Rosa fedtschenkoana, is associated with the Damask
The flowers are renowned for their fine fragrance, and are
commercially harvested for rose oil (either "rose otto" or "rose
absolute") used in perfumery and to make rose water and "rose
concrete". The flower petals are also edible. They may be used to
flavor food, as a garnish, as an herbal tea, and preserved in sugar as
2 History of cultivation
4 Culinary uses
5 Pharmacological properties
6 See also
8 External links
Damask rose is a deciduous shrub growing to 2.2 metres (7 ft
3 in) tall, the stems densely armed with stout, curved prickles
and stiff bristles. The leaves are pinnate, with five (rarely seven)
leaflets. The roses are a light to moderate pink to light red. The
relatively small flowers grow in groups. The bush has an informal
shape. It is considered an important type of Old Rose, and also
important for its prominent place in the pedigree of many other types.
The hybrid is divided in two varieties:
Summer Damasks (R. × damascena nothovar. damascena) have a short
flowering season, only in the summer.
Autumn Damasks (R. × damascena nothovar. semperflorens (Duhamel)
Rowley) have a longer flowering season, extending into the autumn;
they are otherwise not distinguishable from the summer damasks.
A still popular example of R. × damascena is the Ispahan rose. The
Rosa × centifolia
Rosa × centifolia is derived in part from Rosa × damascena,
as are Bourbon, Portland and hybrid perpetual roses.
The cultivar known as
Rosa gallica forma trigintipetala or Rosa
damascena 'Trigintipetala' is considered to be a synonym of Rosa ×
'Celsiana' is a flowering semi-double variety.
History of cultivation
Rosa × damascena
Rosa × damascena is a cultivated flower that is no longer found
growing wild. Its origin was by tradition the Middle East, but recent
genetic tests indicate that it is a hybrid of R. moschata x R. gallica
crossed with the pollen of Rosa fedtschenkoana, which indicates that a
more probable origin is the foothills of central Asia, which is the
home of its pollen parent.
The french Crusader Robert de Brie, who took part in the Siege of
Damascus in 1148 at the second crusade, is sometimes credited for
Damask rose from
Syria to Europe. The name of the rose
refers to the city of
Damascus in Syria, known for its steel (Damask
steel), fabrics (Damask) and roses.
Other accounts state that the ancient Romans brought it to their
colonies in England, and a third account is that the physician of King
Henry VIII gifted him one circa 1540.
There is a history of fragrance production in
Kabul Province of
Afghanistan from the
Damask rose. An attempt has been made to
restore this industry as an alternative for farmers who produce
Rosa × damascena
Rosa × damascena is optimally cultivated in hedge rows to help
protect the blooms from wind damage and to facilitate harvesting them.
Gathering the flowers is intense manual labor. There are about 20–40
days per year when harvesting occurs, depending on the cultivar
cultivated. The roses are gathered by hand and brought to a central
location for steam distillation.
Bulgarian rose, rose Otto, or
Turkey are the most prolific producers of rose oil from
the different cultivars of Rosa × damascena.
contribute significantly to the world market. Morocco, Tunisia, and
some other Middle Eastern nations also historically produced it, but
their modern contribution is negligible.
The town of Kazanlak,
Bulgaria was founded in 1420. Most historians
assume that the cultivation of the "
Kazanlak rose", as Rosa ×
damascena is denominated in that region, commenced around that time.
It was reputedly brought to the town by a Turkish judge who introduced
Tunisia and cultivated them in his fragrant garden. It is
now cultivated for commercial use in an area in the vicinity of
Kazanlak denominated the "Valley of Roses". The distillate from these
roses is sold as "Bulgarian
Rose Oil" and "Bulgarian
Turkish rose oil is sold as "
Rose Oil", "Turkish
Rose Otto", and "Rosa
Damascena Attar", or "Ittar" in similar languages. While families
still operate their own small distilleries and produce what is
denominated "village oil", the commercialization of rose oil as a high
quality product is carefully regulated by a state cooperative in the
Isparta region of Turkey. The roses are still grown by the small
family farms but the flowers are brought to stills established and
regulated by the cooperative for distillation and quality control.
India has also developed an industry producing rose oil, both "Rose
Attar" and "
Rose Absolutes", as well as "
Rose Concrete". Perhaps due
to the low labor cost, these products from
India are less expensive
than those from
Bulgaria and Turkey.
The city of
Saudi Arabia is also famous for cultivation of the
flower, which there is denominated "Ward Taifi".
Damask rose and pistachio
Damask roses are used in cooking as a flavouring ingredient or spice.
They are an ingredient in the Moroccan spice mixture denominated "ras
Rose water and powdered roses are used in Persian, Indian,
and Middle Eastern cuisine.
Rose water is often sprinkled on meat
dishes, while rose powder is added to sauces. Chicken with rose is a
popular dish in Persian cuisine. Whole flowers, or petals, are also
used in the herbal tea "zuhurat". The most popular use, however, is in
the flavoring of desserts such as ice cream, jam, Turkish delights,
rice pudding, yogurt, etc.
For centuries, the
Damask rose has symbolized beauty and love. The
fragrance of the rose has been captured and preserved in the form of
rose water by a method that can be traced to ancient times in the
Middle East and later to the Indian subcontinent.
Modern western cookery does not use roses or rose water much. However,
it was a popular ingredient in ancient times and continued to be
popular well into the Renaissance. It was most commonly used in
desserts, and still is a flavour in traditional desserts such as
marzipan or turrón. It has seen some revival in television cooking in
the twenty-first century.
Pharmacological effects of extracts from flowers from Rosa ×
damascena have been the subject a number of scientific studies. A
review article published in 2011 summarised these studies.
Miracle of the roses
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rosa × damascena.
Wikispecies has information related to Rosa × damascena
^ "Rosa ×damascena".
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS
Database. USDA. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
^ "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived
from the original (xls) on 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
^ a b Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening.
^ *Harkness, P. (2003). The Rose: An Illustrated History. Firefly
Rosa gallica f. trigintipetala". Germplasm Resources Information
Agricultural Research Service
Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States
Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 11 December 2017.
^ Triparental Origin of
Damask Roses, Iwata H1, Kato T, Ohno S., Gene,
Vol. 259, Issues 1-2, 23 December 2000, pages 53-9.
^ Putnam, G. P.; Perkins, F. B. (1877). The World's Progress; A
Dictionary of Dates: Being a Chronological and Alphabetical Record of
All Essential Facts in the Progress of Society, from the Creation of
the World to the Present Time with a Chart. G. P. Putnam.
^ a b Afghan
Rose Oil, An Attractive Fragrance for International
^ 2006-2010 Magazine Online de Parfumuri article on the
^ Mohammad Hossein Boskabady, Mohammad Naser Shafei, Zahra Saberi and
Somayeh Amini (Jul–Aug 2011). "Pharmacological Effects of Rosa
Damascena". Iran J Basic Med Sci. 14 (4): 295–307.
PMC 3586833 . PMID 23493250. CS1 maint: Multiple
names: authors list (link)
Spice Dictionary -
Rosa harvesting in Meimand; Photos.
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Plant List: rjp-51644