Curiosity Corner: Roses 101

Roses 101

A Lesson in ‘Roses 101’ August 19, 2016


By Dr. Jerry D. Wilson

Emeritus Professor of Physics Lander University

QUESTION: My curiosity concerns flowers, some lovely roses probably purchased at a store other than a florist. If the petals are taken apart you will find, at the center of the flower, a fully formed crown with many dark-colored seeds. Are these seeds able to be replanted? (Asked by Theresa Tokasz, Laurens, S.C.)

REPLY: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” So says Juliet in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” And the smell and beauty of roses is about the extent of my rose-ology. But, the Curiosity Corner is a learning place, not only for my readers, but for me, too. So I looked into roses, and here’s what I found concerning rose seeds.

Roses are bisexual, having male (stamen) and female (ovary) parts at the center of the flower. Pollination occurs for reproduction, which is usually done by insects, as for most flowers. Some rose species can pollinate themselves, or this may be done by hand in cross-pollination to develop new strains.

If the rose flowers are left on the bush and wither, at the end of the season small reddish fruit, called hips, develop on the tips of the stems. These are seed pods containing seeds that may be removed by cutting open. The number of seeds per hip varies greatly between rose varieties. The rose seeds may be planted to produce new bushes, but I’ll leave that to the horticulturists.

The cut roses we buy come mainly from greenhouses, which make for easier growing under controlled conditions – no wind or heavy rains. Greenhouse roses can flower up to three times a year, and a single plant can flower for 10 years or more. Most of the cut flowers now come from Central and South America.

Back to Ms. Tokasz’s question about the dark-colored seed crown at the center of the flower. I think this is a ring of stamens. They often appear as a circular ring of sprouts with dark, seed-like ends. They are not seeds per se (as from hips), so planting would probably not yield much.

Just so you know, rose hips and rose petals are edible. Roses are from the same family as apples and crabapples. Hips are a bit tart, like crabapples, but are a good source of vitamin C. There are rose hip jellies and tea. I thank Ms. Tokasz for prompting my lesson in Roses 101.

C.P.S. (Curious Postscript): Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose. -Gertrude Stein

Curious about something? Send your questions to Dr. Jerry D. Wilson, College of Science and Mathematics,

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