Cyprus Mail
HealthLife & Style

Plant of the Week: Queen of flowers traditionally associated with goddess of love


Name: Rose (Rosa damascena)

Otherwise known as: Trigintipetala, Damask Rose

Habitat: A shrub member of the Rosaceae family native to the Orient now grown throughout the Middle East, Levant and Mediterranean regions. It grows to 2.5m, is very thorny with delicate, highly perfumed petals with grey-green leaves formed as 5-7 leaflets.

What does it do: This is one of the earliest cultivated roses and has been used cosmetically and pharmaceutically for over 3,000 years. In Cyprus it has been cultivated commercially for centuries in the Agros region. Tradition associates the rose with Venus, the Goddess of love, and is followed today by its presence in over 90 per cent of women’s cosmetics. Sappho described it as the ‘Queen of flowers’. It was strewn at Roman festivals and ceremonies, and filled the baths of the nobility.

There are over 10,000 types of cultivated rose but none approach the aroma of Damascena; this is why it is so highly valued by the cosmetic industry even though it takes over 18 tonnes of rose petals to produce one litre of rose oil by steam distillation.

Rose water is a by-product of oil distillation and is a constituent of many oriental confectioneries as well as being an excellent skin toner and cleanser.

Rose petals also make an excellent tea which may be taken for sore throats or irritating coughs, it cools the blood and acts gently on the liver and stomach. Cold rose tea may also be used as a cleanser for many skin conditions and as a salve to sore and inflamed eyes. It is also used as a gargle by singers and public speakers as it is known to relax the larynx and calm the nerves.

As a massage oil it has many applications, there are over 300 compounds in the oil and aromatherapists claim they can treat conditions ranging through eczema, herpes, wrinkles, depression, poor circulation, hay fever, asthma, uterine disorders, impotence, frigidity, and stress related complaints.

In addition to the above, the seed pod or rose hip, is a major source of vitamin C – the first plant in which it was discovered – the pulp also contains vitamins A, B1 and B2. A tea will treat gall and kidney stones and maintain a healthy collagen.

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