Rose Products

Rosa Damascena, more commonly known as the Damask rose,[1][2] or sometimes as the rose of Castile, is a rose hybrid, derived from Rosa gallica and Rosa moschata.[3] Further DNA analysis has shown that a third species, Rosa fedtschenkoana, is associated with the Damask rose.[4]

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 gulkand.


The 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:[3]

  • 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 hybrid 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 × damascena.[5]

‘Celsiana’ is a flowering semi-double variety.

History of cultivation

Gole mohamadi.JPG

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.[6]

The french Crusader Robert de Brie, who took part in the Siege of Damascus in 1148 at the second crusade, is sometimes credited for bringing the 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.[7]

There is a history of fragrance production in Kabul Province of Afghanistan from the Damask rose.[8] An attempt has been made to restore this industry as an alternative for farmers who produce opium.[8]

Culinary uses

Nougat with 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 el hanout“. 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 creamjamTurkish delightsrice puddingyogurt, 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 properties

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.[10]


  1. ^ Rosa ×damascenaNatural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  2. ^ “BSBI List 2007”. Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 25 January 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  3. Jump up to:a b Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan.
  4. ^ *Harkness, P. (2003). The Rose: An Illustrated History. Firefly
  5. ^ Rosa gallica f. trigintipetalaGermplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN)Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 11 December 2017.
  6. ^ Triparental Origin of Damask Roses, Iwata H1, Kato T, Ohno S., Gene, Vol. 259, Issues 1-2, 23 December 2000, pages 53-9.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. Jump up to:a b Afghan Rose Oil, An Attractive Fragrance for International Markets
  9. ^ 2006-2010 Magazine Online de Parfumuri article on the Taif rose.
  10. ^ Mohammad Hossein Boskabady, Mohammad Naser Shafei, Zahra Saberi and Somayeh Amini (Jul–Aug 2011). “Pharmacological Effects of Rosa Damascena”Iran J Basic Med Sci14 (4): 295–307. PMC 3586833PMID 23493250.

External links