There exists a wide variety of roses. Some of them are small, with a maximum height of 8 inches (20 cm). Others grow pretty big to a maximum of 50 feet (15 meters), scaling on a surface.
Picking a rose flower can be a challenging task for its admirers. You need to avoid being pricked by the numerous thorns in just one stalk of a rose flower.
The rose carnations are attractive, with their bright colors, elegant arrangement of their petals, and pleasant fragrance.
Among these beautiful flowers though, thorns exist, a source of pain to their admirers. It leaves us to wonder, do thorns have to be among roses?
If so, why is it that roses have thorns?
Why Do Roses Have Thorns?
Roses have thorns to protect themselves from bugs, animals such as deer and rabbits, and humans. These thorns serve the function of keeping any intruders away.
Understanding More about Roses and Their Thorn-Like Appearance
Various plants have sharp protrusions, protecting them by keeping the intruder away. Out in the wild world, every species struggles to survive.
With their indisputable elegance, roses got themselves, numerous predators.
These predators could be bugs who seek to suck their sap, deer or rabbits who long to munch the sweet flowers, and humans who want to pick a few stalks, savor their aroma, and present them as symbols or tokens of love and appreciation to their beloved.
Roses had to develop a way to protect themselves and survive from all these predators. They came up with thorns, the painful pricking monsters among the beautiful roses!
These pricking monsters play a part in keeping the unwanted admirers, the predators, at bay.
The contrasting combination of thorns and roses is for sure critical to the survival of roses, especially those that grow in the wild, lacking the gardener’s tender care. The thorns protect and adapt the flower for maximal chances of survival.
What Rose Thorns Really are
The pointy flanges that grow on the stalks of rose flowers are thorns, right? Wrong! For you and I, the ordinary person with little knowledge of botany, thorns are thorns.
For botanists, there are not just thorns but prickles. The sharp protrusions on plants could be thorns, spines, or prickles.
Plants like hawthorn have thorns, firm extensions of the shoots with internal tissue connection, and thus hard to pluck them off.
Plants like dracaena have spines that are close to thorns but are modifications of leaves instead of shots.
Prickles, as such in roses, are outgrowths of the bark of the stem and have no internal tissue connection to the plant, thus easy to pluck.
Allow me to continue calling rose prickles thorns for the sake of this article, but in the back of our minds, we know we mean prickles, right?
How Thorns Protect Roses
The ancient Chinese saying, “a thorn defends the rose, harming only those who would steal the blossom” sums up the reasoning for the need for thorns to grow among roses.
Native Americans have mythical stories that explain why roses have thorns, and botanists have scientific reasons for the same.
These diverse thoughts are all skewed towards the protection of the rose flower from predators. The thorns discourage predators from getting to the beautiful buds.
To get to the flower, one has to brave the pricking of the thorns.
How Thorns Help Roses Survive
Besides the role of keeping away the predator, thorns also help the rose plant survive in other ways. The sharp bulges on the stalk of roses grow to almost 0. 39 inches long. The thorn is arched downwards.
Each provides grip on the surface of other plants as the rose flower grows, thus getting support from other plants. The rose will then grow in the direction where there is more sunshine.
The sharp extensions on the bark of rose flower stalks also serve another vital function.
They increase the area on the surface of the plant on which sunshine reaches for photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is simply the feeding process for plants.
Thorns, therefore, help the rose flower plant make more food necessary for its growth.
Frequently Asked Questions about Why Roses Have Thorns
Why are thorns in roses curved downward?
The thorns in roses are curved downward to discourage insects from crawling upwards to eat the leaves and buds. The thorns take this form to help the flower hook on the surface of other plants, especially for the climbing kinds of roses. The downwards direction of the curve of the thorns draws water droplets directly to the root. It is helpful with directing dew droplets straight to the root of the rose plant, especially during dry seasons.
Do all roses have thorns?
Not all roses have thorns. Vigorous breeding of rose flowers has resulted in different variations of the rose flower, with some types of roses having very few thorns on one stalk and some other kinds that have no thorns at all. Pricks from these thorns may lead to infection, especially for people with compromised or underdeveloped immunity. The thorn-less varieties of roses are fit for gardening by the elderly or households with children.
Should thorns be removed from roses?
To avoid the incidents of thorn pricking, one may choose to remove thorns from the stalks of the roses. Surely no one would wish their loved one being pricked by presenting them a bouquet of roses full of thorns. However, when removing the thorns, take caution not to injure the skin of the stalk, as such injuries reduce the quality and life span of the flower.
The Last Thorn
Though not the ideal pair, the roses and thorns are a necessary pair.
This pair reminds me of the beauty and the beast story, the beast protecting the beauty from the bogus intentions of other people while at the same time loving the beauty.
The next time you present a rose flower bouquet to your loved one, be mindful not to remove the thorns. The thorny rose will preserve the dynamism of the flower, sending a message across.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.