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Slender stalked rose Rosa graciliflora

Rosa graciliflora is a pink or red-flowered wild rose that is native to China where it has been found between 3,300 and 4,500 m; the solitary flower has a characteristic long and slender pedicel (stalk).

It is a small, erect shrub with slender branchlets, growing up to 4 m tall. The sparse, fine prickles are up to 1 cm long and flare abruptly into a broad base. Each leaf is formed of 9-11 leaflets with toothed margins. The flowers appear in July and August and have a spicy scent. They are solitary, 2.5 - 3.5 cm in diameter, and have five entire (undivided), leaf-like sepals and five pink or deep red petals. The flowers are followed by the fruit which is a red hip of 2-3 cm.

Wild or ‘species’ roses differ from the cultivated roses we are familiar with, in that their flowers mostly have ‘single’ flowers with five petals rather than ‘double’ ones with many petals. Only a small number of these wild roses are the source of the thousands of cultivars that are enjoyed around the world today; however the slender stalked rose is not one of those parent species.

Rose cultivation began in ancient Babylonia and Assyria and was passed on through later civilisations to Europe. Roses were grown for their beauty and scent, to infuse rose-water and rose-oil, and later for medicinal and horticultural purposes.

Although St Valentine’s Day has been celebrated in some form since 500 AD, and roses have been identified with love since the ancient Greeks and Romans, it was not until the second half of the 20th Century that the giving of gifts such as roses on 14 February became common practice.

The traditional Valentine’s verse ‘Roses are red’ can be traced back to:

                    She bath'd with roses red, and violets blew,
                    And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew.

                                                   The Faerie Queene (1590) – Edmund Spenser [sic]

Fact 1

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