February 8, 2023
Rosa Damascena or Damask Rose

An old rose: Rosa Damascena or Damask Rose

Damask Rose is an old-fashioned rose. It is a deciduous shrub. They also call it Castilian Damask, Old Castilian, Trachyean Rose, or Rosa damascena. Rosa Damascena is native to the Middle East. It was brought to Europe through Syria where we assume the name “Damascus Rose” is derived from.

Rosa damascena is part of the Rosaceae family of plants. Damask Rose usually grows to over 2m or 6ft tall. It is rather bushy in its habitat. The leaves are pinnate and have 5 to 7 leaflets. Petals of the rose are edible and are used for garnish or tea.

The flowers are very fragrant. Rosa damascena is cultivated for its fragrance. They use it in toiletries, rose oil, and rose water. Turkey and Bulgaria are the largest producers of Rose oil.

Rosa Damascena or Damask Rose
Rosa damascena or Damask Rose

The flowers are pink. There are two major varieties: Rosa × damascena nothovar. damascena which is summer flowering and Rosa × damascena nothovar. semperflorens which is autumn flowering. Rosa damascena has a short flowering season. But autumn flowering Rosa damascena nothovar. R. semperflorens flower for a longer season.  Another popular variety of Rosa damascena is the Ispahan rose.

Rosa Damascena or Damask Rose
An old rose: Rosa damascena or Damask Rose

Rosa Damascena is a rose hybrid. DNA research has shown that its ancestors include Rosa gallica, Rosa moschata, and Rosa fedtschenkoana. Propagate Rosa Damascena from cuttings and seeds.

How to grow Rosa Damascena:

Grow Rosa Damascena in the sun. Plant it in fertile, well-drained soil. Prune it as any other shrub rose. Old-fashioned shrub roses usually flower on old wood and do not require heavy pruning. Prune them in early spring or late winter. For those shrubs that flower only once you can prune them after the flowering season is over. Avoid excessive build-up of all stems as well. If the growth is very leggy then you can prune it harder. And always cut above a bud.

Rosa Damascena or Damask Rose
Rosa damascena or Damask Rose at Kew Gardens

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