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Damask Rose

( Originally Published 1933 )


Rosaceae Shrub

The damask rose is of course not a herb, but because of its beauty, Old World associations, and constant use in cooking, it rightly belongs in our garden. When I bought the damask rose twelve years ago, none were obtainable in the United States, and mine came to me from a famous rose grower in France, but now they can be bought in American nurseries. This is the rose of Damascus, the petals of which furnish the most fragrant of all rose oils. It is the parent of the gallicas, or French roses. It is grown in Bulgaria, whence the finest attar of roses comes. It is not a vigorous grower in our climate, rising to three feet, but elsewhere to five to six feet, and is a gracefully curving shrub.

Root. The roots are strong and woody.

Branch. The branches rise from low down, are covered with unevenly-sized thorns, and are woody and spreading.

Leaf. The leaves are dull green above and lighter below, and are tinted brownish toward the edges above. The margins are indented and are compounded into seven leaflets each about two and one-half inches long.

Flower. The blossoms are pale pink, crinkly, thin-textured, semi-double, not showing the stamens and pistils at first. They come in a two- to three-flowered cyme and there are seven flowers to a branch and sometimes as many as thirteen. According to the season, they flower from the middle of June to the middle of July and are in bloom about ten days. The bud stems, buds, and calyx are covered with tiny bristles. The flowers and stems are only faintly fragrant of the true rose odor when fresh, but when dried are strongly fragrant. They fade quickly after cutting.


The roses are pruned in the fall, hilled up, covered with straw for the winter, and severely pruned again in the spring. They can be increased from cuttings by planting these in sand out-of-doors over the winter, and the following spring they will have rooted.

Harvest. The petals are picked early in the morning, dried in the shade, and then cleaned for potpourris; not, however, if rose-petal jam is to be made, when fresh rose petals are used.

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