Thursday, April 2, 2009

Rose: King of Indian flowers

Amongst all the scents used in perfumery, rose is one of the oldest and best known. Ancient reference of rose distillation is found in books by Charak and Susruta (Ayurveda sanhita). Mogul emperor Jahangir filled canals of his Palace Garden with distilled rose water. The oil, which was found to float over it, was collected and named as ‘Itr-e-Jahangiri’. This oil was nothing but the rose oil.

Legends about rose
Some say that rose was created from a drop of sweat falling from the brow of Mohammad. Some say, it was due to Bacchus. He fell is love with a beautiful nymph and to appreciate her beauty, covered a thorny bush with red perfumed flowers, we now call rose. Cupid said to have given the God of silence a rose to bribe him, not to reveal the amours of Venus. The rose then became the emblem of silence.

Cleopatra was bathing in rose water and used absolute rose to seduce her lover Antony. Lord Krishna's favorite was rose. Hindus wash and clean their alter of Gods with rose water. Roman banquets were decorated with Roses. When Alexander the Great came to India, he fell in love with beautiful gardens of India, nicely decorated with various kind of fragrant roses.

Rose species: There are more than 5,000 varieties of roses known to botanists. Only a few of them are fragrant and the fragrance varies according to the plant variety. Most of the fragrant roses are hybrids and the fragrance, referred by perfumers as ROSE, is found exclusively in the roses belonging to the group ‘cetifolia’ of family Roseaceae. Out of these only three are commercially exploited for the production of oil.

1. Rosa damascena: Also known as ‘Pink Damask Rose’
Found in wild in Syria, Morocco, and Andalusia. This variety contains relatively high amount of volatile oil. The oil required for perfumery is obtained from rose cultivated in Bulgaria and Turkey. The volatile oil obtained is light yellow, slightly greenish and is semisolid at room temperature. Odour is powerful and is characteristic of fresh roses. Flavour is sweet, strong and honey like. Damascena rose absolute is orange yellow, orange reddish or slightly olive yellowish viscous fluid with extremely rich, warm, spicy floral deep rose odour, with honey undertone.

2. Rosa alba: Also known as ‘white cottage rose’
This contains much less volatile oil and is of inferior quality compared to damask rose. This variety is resistant to unfavourable climatic conditions and hence is preferred by farmers. It is also grown in Bulgaria.

3. Rosa centifolia (L): Also known as ‘Light Pink Cabbage Rose’
This variety is grown exclusively in the Grasse region of southern France. It is also grown in Morocco and there it is also referred to as ‘Rose de mai’. It is difficult to distill oil from this variety using steam distillation. Hence solvent extraction is used to prepare concrete and absolutes from this rose. This variety appears to be related to Rosa damascena. ‘Rose de mai’ is orange-yellow to orange-brown viscous liquid, with rich sweet honey like tenacious odour.

Rose plantation: Soil in which rose thrive best is clayey, rich in humus, slightly sandy containing traces of ferrous salts. The soil should be slightly moist, not too dry. Hill slope at the altitude of 2,500–3,250 feet are very much suitable for the growth of rose plant. The plant should be well protected against cold winds as well as hot winds. Climate should be humid. New fields are started in fall. The first harvest can be obtained in third year after planting. Normal harvest is obtained after five years.

Harvesting: Rose begins to bloom in the second week of May and lasts for 3 to 4 weeks. Harvesting begins as soon as flowers open. They are collected by hands; nipped off just below the calyx. Usually plucking starts at day break and continues until 8–9 am.

Perfumery and flavour application of rose oils: Rose oil adds beauty and depth to the odour blend. When solubility in dilute alcohol is important, rose oil is used. Rose absolute can be used only when high grade alcohol is used. It is very important in rose –jasmine complex found in fashion perfumes. Rose de mai is useful in rounding up sharp notes in synthetic compositions. It is useful to flavour a variety of tobacco, snuff and chewing tobacco, soft drinks and alcoholic liqueurs. Also, to add interesting effect in fruit flavours such as apricol, raspberry, bitter almonds, etc.

Rose in India
The introduction of scented rose cultivation in India was started during Mughal time. Major rose oil producing region in India are Kashmir valley, mid-hills of Himachal Pradesh, upper plains of Uttar Pradesh, Haldi ghati in Rajasthan and upper Shivalik hills in Punjab. More than 50% of production is confined to the state of U.P. & Rajasthan. We have been credited for introducing large-scale cultivation of Rosa damascena in Shivalik zone and upper plains of Punjab. The jawala variety of Damask rose developed by IHBT, CSIR has been standardized for the cultivation of this valuable crop in the plains of Punjab.

Therapeutic application of rose
The rose has many therapeutic values as long as it is of good grade, pure natural oil. Arab healers believed rose ‘jam’ could heal lung complaints. Dr. Leclerc, in Plantes Condimentaires published in 1950,valued it as a gentle laxative. It is astringent, antiseptic, soothing to eyes. A recipe by Galen suggests use of rose in cold cream. Galen was great Greek Physician. In cosmetic applications, rose is useful in eczema, to cure broken skin, against wrinkles and help remove skin puffiness. It is suitable for all skin types. It increase smoothness, reduce wrinkles on the face and helps the skin of the body glowing and charming rose oil helps patients suffering from depression, fear, nervous tension, insomnia and gives the feeling of well-being. It is helpful in women’s gynecological disorders, menopausal symptoms. It reduces excessive heat of the body. If used before menstrual cycle, it reduces P.M.S. problems.

About the author
Dr. Geetanjali Ranade is a graduate of the Australasian College Certificate in Aromatherapy program. She is a doctorate in biomedical engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and was visiting scientist at the National Cardiovascular Center, Japan, for post-doctoral research in brain physiology. She also holds RMP(Registered Medical Practitioner) from Indian Board of Alternative Medicine.

© 2008 This article originally appeared in the NAHA Aromatherapy E-Journal, 2008.3


India Flower said...

Such Am so Happy To see Your This Blog And I Like Your This Blog And Who Dose Not Like Your This Blog ... I mean To SAY All ARE like this blog because your Blog Is So Useful To Us Thanks To Sharing Us Send Flowers To Agra

Yatika Dhingra said...

Simple and useful...
World Wide Business Directories of Manufacturers Exporters &Suppliers

Ashish Kumar said...

I would like to thank for creating this interesting blog, because your article is good one to read. Flowerngift

nortoncontact number said...

nice blog thank for creating this blog

Vaonline News said...

vaonlinenewsi really appreciate your blog.... its a very simple way to describe.... thanks to sharing with us...

isiwal technologies said...

I Am Very Happy To See Your Blog And I Gathered Many Information From Your Blog And Thanks For Sharing Your Blog With Us.