A Picture of White Roses

50 rose pictures painted by Pierre-Joseph Redouté

The red rose whisper of passion,

And the white rose breathes of love;

O, the red rose is a falcon,

And the white rose is a dove.

 

John Boyle O’Reilly, A White Rose

 

When you look at the complete collection of roses Redouté painted for Les Roses, many are white Species roses. These roses, often with just five petals, are the archetype of the original rose. The oldest known rose fossils are believed to be some 40 million years old. And although we can never know for sure, there’s a good chance it was a white rose that opened its first bud.

 

Although there are more white roses in Nature than any other, few are truly white. Like the bewildering variety of white tints that house paint comes in, white roses come in an equally impressive number of subtle warm and cool tints. They may be pale ivory or rich clotted cream, blushed with the palest pink or cool silvery mauve or tinged with lemon or even pale green. Even within an ‘all-white’ rose garden you can have a lot of subtle variation.

 

Meaning of White Roses

 

White roses are traditionally symbolic of purity and virtue, innocence and sincerity.   From the cradle to the grave, white roses are often present to mark the passage of time in our lives. In Victorian times at birth, white roses symbolic of innocence, might have been given to celebrate the new arrival. At marriage a bride may have carried a white bouquet, symbolic of her purity and virtue and at death a coffin may have been decorated with white (and often white and red) roses as a symbol of sincerity and eternal love. 

Today we still follow many of these traditions. In the ‘language of flowers’, white roses are symbolic of pure intentions.

 

In a romantic context, a white rose may be a heart innocent of love, or it may symbolise undying love, a love and loyalty deeper than fleeting passion. Hence in the ‘language of flowers’ both meanings are accommodated, a white rosebud meaning ‘I am too young to be loved’ and a white rose meaning ‘I am worthy of you’.

 

Like in John Boyle O’Reilly’s poem (above), white and red roses can be seen as symbolic opposites. The Christian Virgin Mary takes the white roses as her symbol as did the Greek & Roman Aphrodite (Venus) Goddess of Love. While the Virgin Mary represents the purity and innocence of the virginal, Aphrodite represents the passage of womanhood – when she is virginal she is represented by white roses, when sexual/fertile she is represented by red roses. 

 

Did you know?

According to American florists, when people buy roses, white roses are the least popular choice.

(Red roses are the most popular)

        

Click on each white rose picture (at left and below) to find out more about the rose.



Wreath of Wild Roses
Wreath of Wild Roses
Musk Rose
Musk Rose
The Macartney Rose
The Macartney Rose
Droopy-Leaved Rose
Droopy-Leaved Rose
Sharp-Petaled China Rose
Sharp-Petaled China Rose
Dupontii
Dupontii
Burnet Rose of Marienbourg
Burnet Rose of Marienbourg
Dwarf Burnet Rose
Dwarf Burnet Rose
Shailer’s White Moss
Shailer’s White Moss
Ovoid-Fruited Field Rose
Ovoid-Fruited Field Rose
Short-Styled Rose
Short-Styled Rose
Semi-Double Musk Rose
Semi-Double Musk Rose
Redouté’s Rose with Glaucous Leaves
Redouté’s Rose with Glaucous Leaves

'Unique Blanche' Rose

'Alba Semi-Plena' Rose
White Four Seasons Rose
White Four Seasons Rose
White-Flowered Rose
White-Flowered Rose
York and Lancaster
York and Lancaster
Anjou Rose
Anjou Rose
Flat-Flowered Hill Rose
Flat-Flowered Hill Rose
Round-Fruited Evergreen Rose
Round-Fruited Evergreen Rose
Orbessan Rose
Orbessan Rose
Cuspidate Rose
Cuspidate Rose
Downy Rose, Harsh Downy Rose, Whitewoolly Rose
Downy Rose, Harsh Downy Rose, Whitewoolly Rose
Lady Banks Rose
Lady Banks Rose
De Candolle’s Rose (white flowers)
De Candolle’s Rose (white flowers)
Hemp-Leaved White Rose
Hemp-Leaved White Rose
Big-Leaved Climbing Rose
Big-Leaved Climbing Rose
Shiny-Leaved Dog Rose
Shiny-Leaved Dog Rose
Blush Noisette
Blush Noisette
Bengale Blanc
Bengale Blanc
Cherokee Rose
Cherokee Rose
Twin-Flowered Rose
Twin-Flowered Rose
White Bell Rose
White Bell Rose
Double White Burnet Rose
Double White Burnet Rose
Rosenburg’s Rose
Rosenburg’s Rose
Spiny-Leaved Rose of Dematra
Spiny-Leaved Rose of Dematra
Thousand-Spined Rose
Thousand-Spined Rose
Proliferous Cels’s Rose
Proliferous Cels’s Rose
Leafy White Rose of Fleury
Leafy White Rose of Fleury
Thornless Burnet Rose
Thornless Burnet Rose
Bidentate Mountain Rose
Bidentate Mountain Rose
Upright Field Rose
Upright Field Rose
Myrtle-Leaved Hedge Rose
Myrtle-Leaved Hedge Rose
Farinose Rose
Farinose Rose
Silver Flowered Hispid Rose
Silver Flowered Hispid Rose
Leschenault’s Rose
Leschenault’s Rose
Vaillant’s Sweetbriar
Vaillant’s Sweetbriar

'Adélaide d’Orléans' Rose

'L'Hymenee' Rose
Rosa Mundi
Rosa Mundi
Crown of Wild Roses
Crown of Wild Roses







©2007 A Picture of Roses. All rights reserved.




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Free stuff

Rose Clipart


Researching Old Roses

Books (Used to research this site)


What does 'double' or 'sport' mean?

Glossary of rose terms


The Language of Roses

Rose meanings