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Spring pruning roses in the garden, gardener's hands with secateur

Find out why roses have thorns

Roses are arguably the most beautiful flower in the world. Sometimes a symbol of eternal love and sometimes a token of friendship, roses have a fantastic fragrance and are found in various colors, including, but not limited to, red, pink, white, and even black. In fact, you can discover over 300 species of roses with a simple Google search. But do you ever wonder why there are sharp spikes or thorns on these beauties? Let’s find out.

As a red rose nods in the delicate breeze and you reach out to pluck it, some sharp spikes stop you like knights guarding the king of flowers. There are over 300 species or members in the family Rosaceae. You can find over 30,000 varieties of these timeless beauties, and botanists are still cultivating more. There are countless poems and songs defining the beauty of a rose. Their colors can symbolize feelings like a red rose that conveys love, romance and a yellow one representing friendship.

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

Abraham Lincoln

However, almost all the species of these delicate petals come with thorns. These spikes are commonly found in many plant stems or branches. But what we call thorns are ‘prickles’ for botanists, and there’s a difference between thorns and prickles. While thorns can’t be broken without hurting the stem, prickles are small outgrowths from roses’ outer layers/epidermis. With no deep roots, they can be removed easily.

Story of Roses & Thorns

The oldest rose fossil was found in Florissant, Colorado, and is believed to be 35 million years old by scientists. Native Americans believe that roses had no thorns but just colorful petals with smooth stems emanating a rich & sweet fragrance several years ago. But they were an attraction to rabbits and other herbivores. Since they used to eat the entire bush, roses went to a man with magical powers named Nanahboozoo.

As soon as the rose bushes revealed unkind animals’ behavior, Nanahboozoo gave them small prickles to save themselves from the predators. Fortunately, the magic worked, and after millions of years, roses still grow prettier and bigger with each passing year.

Thorns and Roses Symbolizing Life

Thorns or scientifically ‘prickles’ allow beautiful roses to survive by keeping animals and humans away. If these knights of the flower-king weren’t there, we would not have witnessed so many beautiful colors of this delicate flower.

Our life is also full of painful or “prickly” times, but we come out more confident, more experienced, and more positive as we go through them. These thorns in our life bring out the beauty in us. They may look nasty, they may feel uncomfortable, but thorns are as important as the flower. Difficult times can grow us better than anything else. Let’s face our thorns positively and teach everyone to wait for the roses to bloom after the thorns.

The Authors

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