The most famous oil-bearing rose in the world. Renowned for its delicate fragrance, this queen of roses is commercially harvested for rose oil used in perfumery and cosmetics, such as rose water. The flower petals are also edible, used to flavour food, as a garnish and as a herbal flower tea.
Rosa Damascena typically is growing to 2.2 metres tall, the stems densely armed with stout, curved prickles and stiff bristles. The roses are a light to moderate pink to light red in color.
The Legend says that a powerful ruler in the Roman Empire fell in love with a tall, beautiful girl in Damascus. Upon his return to the lands of the Eastern Roman Empire, he dedicates to her the most beautiful flower in his garden, and this was Rosa Damascena.
Bulgaria is the most prolific producer of rose oil in the world, and Rosa Damascena takes 60%-70% of produced oil each year.
The Bulgarian town of Kazanlak, has been inhabited for thousands of years. Most historians assume that the cultivation of the "Kazanlak rose", as Rosa Damascena is denominated in that region. It is reported that roses have been cultivated in the area since Roman times.
It is cultivated for commercial use in an area in the vicinity of Kazanlak called The Rose Valley. The distillate from these roses is called "Bulgarian Rose Oil".
Rosa Damascena is used in cooking as a flavouring ingredient or spice in Balkan, Persian, Indian, and Middle Eastern cuisine. Rose water is often sprinkled on meat dishes, while rose powder is added to sauces.
Chicken with rose is a popular dish in Persian cuisine. Whole flowers, or petals, are also used in the herbal flower tea. The most popular use, however, is in the flavouring of desserts such as ice cream, jam, baklava, rice pudding, yoghurt.
For centuries, Rosa Damascena has symbolized beauty and love, and it was prevalent in the west during the Renaissance. It was most commonly used in desserts, and still is a flavour in traditional desserts such as marzipan or turrón