A rose by any other name would smell as sweet – Wikipedia


O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet


[Aside] Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?


‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.


I take thee at thy word:
Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized;
Henceforth I never will be Romeo

William Shakespeare

Damask rose (the fragrance you actually smell) is the standard in the perfume industry.  It comes from over 300 compounds, which, because of their different chemistry, evaporate independently – so the the aroma changes over time. The name Damask refers to the city of Damascus in Syria, known for its steel (Damask steel), fabrics (Damask) and roses!!!! 

The seven main rose scents are rose (or damask), nasturtium, orris (Iris), violets, apple, clove, and lemon (fruit).  There are 26 other less common odors you may smell in roses including honeysuckle, moss, hyacinth, honey, wine, marigold, peppers, parsley, and raspberry. The damask is found in many of the rose plants we at Plant Specialists install in our gardens. We insist !

Some of the best are Queen of Denmark (pictured above),  Ispahan and Ipsilante.  Also found in David Austin’s English   Roses –  the classic favorite being Gertrud Jekyll.                       Thank you David Austin Roses

Scent also changes with the time of day – early morning is the strongest. This is when roses are harvested for rose oil. They are also more powerful with the first blooms of summer and can even can change from outdoors to indoors. A rose not very fragrant outdoors may be quite scented once in a vase inside. Once a rose is fully open, the fragrance is different from the rose in bud.

The Damask rose (the actual plant) – Rosa damascena – sometimes called                                    the rose of Castille,  is genetically derived from Rosa gallica, Rosa moschata and Rosa fedtschenkoana. All Ancient roses since pre-Roman times. The petals were valued by the Romans to scent rooms after bathing – Thank you Wikipedia
Rose petals are edible and are often used to flavor and or decorate food. Rose petal jam (above ) is absolutely delicious. Thank you foodhallonline


Petals are, mainly, commercially harvested for rose oil used in perfumery.    Bulgarian steam distillery making rose otto circa 1900’s.

One main location is in the vicinity of Kazanlak called the “Valley of Roses” in Bulgaria. The distillate from these roses is called “Bulgarian Rose Oil” and “Bulgarian Rose Otto”. Rose oil is also extracted from Rosa Centifolia (Moroccan) also known as ‘rose de mai’.

Roses must be cut before the morning dew on their petals dries and received in the processing   plants within two hours of harvesting to preserve the valuable fragrance. It takes two tons of   roses to make 2.2 lbs of rose “butter”, which sells for more than $10,000 today. That’s about 50   to 60,000 rose blooms —all of which are picked by hand !!

Rose otto is the essential oil steam distilled from fresh roses –  an almost clear pale yellow liquid. When it is very cold it solidifies but it is easily warmed to liquid again. It smells rich, floral, warm and spicy with honey undertones. The smell of fresh roses becomes more apparent at when its diluted. This is the most expensive extract of roses.

Rose otto- raw distillate. Thank you oildeology

Rose concrete is a solvent extraction of fresh roses. Its a deep orange colored mass of a jam-like consistency, it can also be greenish yellow. The smell is sweet floral, rich woody tea like. Rose absolute is extracted from this using alcohol.

Thank you to our in house horticulturalist Peter Morris BSc. MSc. MBA