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Rosa Damascena – the Queen of oil-bearing roses
Numerous legends have been handed down from ancient times, regarding the "royal" origin of the beautiful rose with many names (Damask rose, Rose of Castile, Gole mohammadi, etc.). The botanical name of the plant derives from Damascus (the capital of present-day Syria) and it is still widely believed nowadays that the first rose of this particular type was born precisely there. Recent genetic studies, however, have identified Central Asia as its true homeland. This assertion is based on the fact that the plant is a hybrid, produced by cross-fertilization of two other roses (Rosa gallica and Rosa moschata) with pollen from a third rose species, coming from the foot of the Central Asian mountains (Rosa fedtschenkoana).
Its beauty and irresistible aroma make the Damascena a perfect plant for your garden and for public parks, but this fascinating flower is most of all grown for its precious essential oil, enriching so many perfumes and all type of cosmetic products all around the world, carrying for your skin like nothing else.
There are only 4 types of oil-bearing roses worldwide, and Rosa Damascena is bestowed with the highest yield and the highest quality of the oil among all.
It is assumed that this specific rose variety was brought to Europe in the middle of the 13th century, while cultivation in Bulgaria (by far the largest producer of rose oil in the world) began during the Ottoman yoke (1393-1878), when the territory of the Ottoman Empire encompassed the territories of both Syria and Bulgaria, and there was free movement of people and commercial goods between the 2 dependent states, being within the limits of the same empire.
Rosa Damascena possesses a truly unique composition of more than 300 substances, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and many others, some of which are found nowhere else. Its petals are edible and are used to add flavor to jams and yoghurts, but as a nutrient source they are undoubtedly most craved by the skin.
Cosmetics enriched with oil or extract of roses acquire powerful nourishing and regenerative properties. They stimulate collagen production and eliminate free radicals, keeping the skin smooth and protected from appearance of pigment spots. The rejuvenating capacity of the plant is confirmed by an interesting laboratory test, in which the short life of a flock of fruit flies was extended with the help of rose extract. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial qualities, this beautiful flower also prevents acne and other skin irritations.
The amazing potential of Rosa Damascena has been detected not only by the perfume, cosmetic and food industries, but by the pharmaceutical one, as well. Numerous scientific studies have been conducted over the years, affirming the incredible effect that the rose has on the physical and the mental state of humans.
The enchanting fragrance of its blossoms is known to everyone, but there is a scientific evidence, as well, that the oral intake of some rose extracts has a genuine hypnotic effect on the central nervous system. This property of the plant promises to turn it into a cure for insomnia, depression and anxiety, in the very near future.
Improving brain function, the rose may turn out to be an effective precaution against Alzheimer's disease, while lowering blood sugar levels – a helpful assistant for diabetics.
The healing properties of “the Queen of flowers” do not end here, by any means. Some of the substances that it contains have the ability to dull the sensation of pain, to fight dangerous viruses, such as HIV and Escherichia coli, to ease the suffering of patients with various ocular and respiratory diseases, to improve cardiovascular functions and much, much more.
Rosa centifolia (hundred leaved rose), also called the cabbage rose, is a hybrid rose, developed in the Netherlands, around the middle of the 18th century. Nowadays, it is most commonly grown in France, Morocco and Egypt. As its name suggests, this type of rose is distinguishable by its numerous overlapping petals. Although its blossoms are large and heavy, they contain only a small amount of essential oil, and of lesser quality.
Rosa Gallica (rose of the Gauls), or the French rose, is a small, cold-tolerable, deciduous shrub, native to Central and South Europe. It is one of the earliest cultivated species of roses, domesticated by the Ancient Greeks. It became a common plant in mediaeval gardens and in the 19th century it was already the most widespread type of rose in Europe. It has large flowers, but with very light scent.
Rosa alba (White rose) is a hybrid rose, known for being very disease resistant and cold hardy. Though not very common, it has been cultivated in Europe at least since the times of the Roman Empire. It is an elegant, upright, medium-sized shrub, distinguishable by its grayish foliage. The petals, sometimes with soft pink shades, are large and numerous, but produce very small quantities of essential oil.