Botanist's Glossary

Rose of May - Rosa centifolia

  • Description
    • This rose tree (from the Rosaceae family) is a thorny shrub that grows to a height of 50 cm to 1 meter. It is related to the European wild rose, Rosa gallica. It has very full flowers, sometimes in "quarters", with very many petals - hence the name "hundred-petalled rose". Its flowers, in varying shades of pink, have a sweet, fine yet strong odor. It is grown in the Mediterranean basin and Western Asia for the perfume industry, floral water, confectionery, etc.
  • Traditions
    • Even today, the rose continues to be the flower richest in symbols: love, passion, youth, innocence. The reputation of Grasse is partly due to the centifolia rose - also known as the Grasse rose and May rose.
  • Properties
    • Solvent extraction is used to obtain a concrete from the centifolia rose. The yield is much too low for steam distillation. It is valued for its incomparable sweet and flowery scent. The floral water, also extensively used, gives a feeling of freshness and comfort without irritating the skin.