What comes to mind when we think about flowers is the image of a complete blossom in different shades of colors, mostly red, pink, violet, orange, and yellow. Even bees and butterflies would certainly recognise where to get their nectar because of these attractive hues.
The lively colors are what set flowers apart from the majority of the plant parts which are green but what if flowers were green as well? And what if our beloved rose is green instead, would we and the bees and butterflies be attracted to it a little less?
This article will explain the nature of green roses and how the aesthetic of this peculiar flower appeals to the world.
Flowers as Modified Leaves
Most flowers are made up of four rings or whorls: the sepals protecting the unopened bud, the petals usually in bright color, the stamen or the male reproductive part, and the carpel or the female reproductive organ (1).
Scientists say that these whorls were once leaves and that through evolution, were modified so that plants could reproduce.
This metamorphosis brought about the colored petals that attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, transferring pollen to other flowers often resulting in cross-breeding. In the case of roses, the colorful array of flowers was also the reason why people collect and hybridize them.
Origin of the Green Rose
How old are they?
Among the highly cultivated rose species is the Rosa chinensis for the colorful, fragrant, and pest resistant flowers that are also repeat-bloomers and in 1743, a strange-looking blossom was observed on the cultivar called Rosa chinensis ‘Viridiflora’ (2).
Where does it come from?
Unlike black roses, green rose exists and it’s very unusual. Instead of stamen, carpel, and petals in red, pink or yellow color, the flower parts were all transformed into green leaf-like structures which were later identified as the sepals.
This abnormal development of floral parts into leafy structures is called phyllody and is said to be a result of chance mutation. Because the flower is basically made up of layers of sepals, no reproductive organs exist and therefore, no pollination and no seeds will be produced for the next generation of this rose plant. The unique plant can be propagated by cuttings and graftings instead (3).
‘Viridiflora’ means green flower and so the rose plant is now well-known as the Green Rose. It grows as an evergreen shrub with vibrant green leaves that has tinges of red. The flower does not resemble roses but the clump of sepals are apple-green in color with bronze tips with a slightly peppery scent (2).
The bizarre appearance of Green Roses makes them stand-out in flower arrangements and their hardy and repeat-blooming characteristics make them good performers in the garden, especially during the winter.
Green Rose Varieties
The ‘Viridiflora’ rose may be a peculiar addition to any rose collection or arrangement but people still crave the green color in a true rose-looking flower.
Aside from dyed roses, there are rose cultivars that have been created with a more natural green color that are commercially available and widely used by florists (4).
Rosa ‘Acropolis’ flowers are in clusters and are mostly orange with an underside fading to greenish-white.
The plant grows as a shrub reaching up to two meters and prefers a full-sunlight condition. This rose cultivar was bred by Meilland International in 2002.
Mint Julep Rose
Rosa ‘Mint Julep’ was hybridized by Jack Christensen in 1983, creating an unusual yellow-green flowers with tinges of soft pink.
This is a hybrid tea rose plant that grows bushy and the height reaches up to a meter. The dark green foliage is glossy and leathery. The plant is used either as a cut flower or as an accent to gardens.
Green Tea Rose
The large flowers of Rosa ‘Green Tea’ are almost white but pale yellow to green in color. This hybrid tea shrub prefers the sun and the flowers are usually solitary.
Hybridized by Rosen-Tantau in 2006, this flower is used by florists and is exhibited for the unique color.
St. Patrick Rose
Rosa ‘St. Patrick’, named after the patron saint of Ireland, otherwise called limelight in New Zealand, is a hybrid tea cultivated by Frank Strickland in 1996.
The color of the vigorous flowers is green during the heat of summer and golden in colder temperatures and they smell fragrant too. The leaves are pale-green on stems that grow to a meter long.
Rosa ‘Greensleeves’ is a floribunda rose that flowers in clusters. The blossom’s color starts a pale pink-green as buds and bloom to a delicate green.
They grow up to more than a meter in slightly acidic soil and flower from spring to fall. The stems are thorny bearing leaves that are glossy and toothed. The plant was bred in the United Kingdom by Harkness in 1980.
Green Ice Rose
Bred by the Father of Miniature Rose, Ralph Moore, in 1971, Green Ice rose has flat white to light green flowers with bright green stamen. The leaves are glossy and leathery and are relatively pest resistant.
Because the plant grows up to half a meter in height, it is commonly grown in containers and is adorable in hanging baskets but they can be used as a low border as well. When grown in shade, the flowers may stay a darker shade of green.
Rose Super Green
Another hybrid tea rose, Rosa ‘Super Green’ has big flowers that are tinted green which are favorites among florists.
They grow in small clusters with long sepals and none to mild fragrance. Their green leaves are large and semi-glossy on long stems. This plant was bred by Alessandro Ghione from Italy in 1997.
A Rosa ‘Wimbledon’ flower is deep green with slightly red, ruffled edges. This rose was bred by Olij Rozen.
It comes in long stems and deep green foliage. The flowers bloom throughout the season so they are available as cut flowers all year around.
This rose cultivar was bred by Ralph Moore in 1975. The flowers are single or double-petalled white that blends with green and do not have fragrance. The pointed buds are small and bloom in flushes.
As with most miniature roses, Rosa ‘Green Diamond’ grows up to half a meter and the leaves are typically medium to dark green and needs partial shade to thrive.
Green Rose Meanings and Symbolism
The color green has always been associated with nature and fertility as lush plants and trees grow on a fertile land. In the language of flowers, a green rose is given to married women who are trying to have a baby to mean them luck in pregnancy, a sign of hope and fertility (5).
What does a green rose signify? Green roses are also a symbol of balance, cheerfulness, and rejuvenation. Green roses as cut flowers are placed in rooms and offices together with potted plants as they give off a refreshing vibe to the otherwise, busy and tiring atmosphere.
Since work-life in offices tends to be exhausting and chaotic, green roses radiate freshness and happiness. They remind people of spring and creates peace of mind.
In Ireland, the Emerald Isle, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated with everything green. Green roses are given to loved ones as a symbol of faith and hope along with the lucky shamrocks.
However, some describe green as the color of jealousy so receiving green roses may mean that the sender is feeling resentful. They say that the phrase “green with envy” is attributed to the jealousy felt when the body over produces bile and colors the skin green.
(1) Leutwyler, K. “Turning Leaves into Petals”. Scientific American. 2001. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/turning-leaves-into-petal/.
(2) Thingnam, S. “Flowers of India.” 2019. Retrieved from http://www.flowersofindia.net.
(3) Yan, Huijun et al. “The Rosa chinensis cv. Viridiflora Phyllody Phenotype Is Associated with Misexpression of Flower Organ Identity Genes.” Frontiers in plant science vol. 7 996. 12 Jul. 2016, doi:10.3389/fpls.2016.00996 – link
(4) “Plants Database.” National Gardening Association. 2019. Retrieved from https://garden.org.
(5) Stewart, William. “Dictionary of Images and Symbols in Counseling.” 1998. Pp. 350.
*Featured image: Credit: 阿橋 HQ – Flickr