The Apothecary's Rose
Medicinal Values

  First Light - Landscape Rose, Photo By: Irene Hannestad

Chiefly grown in monasterries by monks eager to capitalize on the rose’s medicinal values, by the end of the 13th century it was also grown for its perfume and dried for potpourri (literally translated, “rotten pot”). By the 16th century, dried petals from the Apothecary’s Rose were steeped in wine as a cure for hangovers — although this idea was not new; coming from the Early Romans who used roses for the same purpose almost 1200 years before.

By the time of Napoleon in the 19th century, there were more apothecaries on the main street of Provins than any other type of shop. At each, an Apothecary’s Rose was planted outside the entrance. It became as much a symbol of the druggist as the balanced scales were to the lawyer and the three globes to the pawn broker.

Druggists dispensed remedies containing the Apothecary’s Rose that reportedly aided indigestion, sore throats, skin rashes and eye maladies. Women believed that the petals would eliminate wrinkles and preserve their youth if rubbed on the skin. (It was proven, late in the 19th century, that roses contained essential oils, potassium and iron.)

A recipe for rose tea comes from this era. Translated: 5 teaspoons of rose petals are steeped in 4 cups of boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes; then sweetened with honey and served warm.

To this day, the Apothecary’s Rose is still used for its highly fragrant qualities in potpourri, soothing teas, lotions and other cosmetics. It grows to 5 ft. and spreads by suckering. It’s rated by the American Rose Society at 8.6 — almost as high as you can get... and rightfully so!

By Mark Whitelaw, Kindly Provided by Laura Whitelaw

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