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Our National Flower

In 1986 the rose became the national flower of the United States.

Of all the flowers, the rose is probably the most admired, and it is a recurring metaphor in literature. It appears frequently as a symbol of beauty and love. Shakespeare in “Romeo and Juliet” wrote, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

During the English Wars of the Roses, York’s symbol was the white and Lancaster’s was the red rose. In the Arabian culture, masculinity was symbolized by white roses, and they were also associated with Mohammad. Josephine Bonaparte may have felt more passionate about her roses than about Napoleon. The term, “sub rosa” means confidential because the Romans hung roses above their conference tables to signify that whatever was spoken there was to remain secret.

Although there are some rose species that are native to North America, cultivated varieties were introduced in the 17th Century from France. In 1986 the rose became the national flower of the United States. It is also the state flower of the District of Columbia, Georgia, Iowa, New York and North Dakota, which makes it the most popular choice for a state flower.

Velvet red roses are now available for purchase all through the year, even in the depths if winter. They don’t have the fragrance of old fashioned roses, but they add the richness and history to our holiday celebrations.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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