A rose is a woody perennial of the genus Rosa, within the family Rosaceae. There are over 100 species and thousands of cultivars. They form a group of plants that can be erect shrubs, climbing or trailing with stems that are often armed with sharp prickles. Flowers vary in size and shape and are usually large and showy, in colours ranging from white through yellows and reds. Most species are native to Asia, with smaller numbers native to Europe, North America, and northwest Africa. Species, cultivars and hybrids are all widely grown for their beauty and often are fragrant. Rose plants range in size from compact, miniature roses, to climbers that can reach seven meters in height. Different species hybridize easily, and this has been used in the development of the wide range of garden roses.
The name rose comes from French, itself from Latin rosa, which was perhaps borrowed from Oscan, from Greek itself borrowed from Old Persian related to Avestan Sogdian ward, Parthian wâr.
The genus Rosa is subdivided into four subgenera:
Hulthemia (formerly Simplicifoliae, meaning “with single leaves”) containing one or two species from southwest Asia, R. persica and Rosa berberifolia which are the only roses without compound leaves or stipules.
Hesperrhodos (from the Greek for “western rose”) contains Rosa minutifolia and Rosa stellata, from North America.
Platyrhodon (from the Greek for “flaky rose”, referring to flaky bark) with one species from east Asia, Rosa roxburghii.
Rosa (the type subgenus, incorrectly called Eurosa) containing all the other roses. This subgenus is subdivided into 11 sections.
Banksianae – white and yellow flowered roses from China.
Bracteatae – three species, two from China and one from India.
Caninae – pink and white flowered species from Asia, Europe and North Africa.
Carolinae – white, pink, and bright pink flowered species all from North America.
Chinensis – white, pink, yellow, red and mixed-color roses from China and Burma.
Gallicanae – pink to crimson and striped flowered roses from western Asia and Europe.
Gymnocarpae – one species in western North America (Rosa gymnocarpa), others in East Asia.
Laevigatae – a single white flowered species from China
Pimpinellifoliae – white, pink, bright yellow, mauve and striped roses from Asia and Europe.
Rosa (syn. sect. Cinnamomeae) – white, pink, lilac, mulberry and red roses from everywhere but North Africa.
Synstylae – white, pink, and crimson flowered roses from all areas.
Roses are best known as ornamental plants grown for their flowers in the garden and sometimes indoors. They have been also used for commercial perfumery and commercial cut flower crops. Some are used as landscape plants, for hedging and for other utilitarian purposes such as game cover and slope stabilization. They also have minor medicinal uses.
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