Roses are common flowers that are famous for their beauty and scent. Some varieties are more common than others, and some varieties are quite rare. The rarest rose of all is the blue rose, which is the subject of poems, art and song but is not easy to find. In 2004, scientists created a blue rose using genetic modification.
In the wild, roses are white, pink, red or a blend of those colours. Blue roses do not exist because the blue gene -- delphinidin -- is not present. Roses have been modified through breeding, and recently through genetic modification, to create a wide range of colours.
Historically, a blue rose is a symbol of something elusive or rare. Rudyard Kipling used the blue rose symbolism in his poetry. Other artists have used it in paintings, fiction and movies. The blue rose is called the Holy Grail of roses.
The First Blue Roses
The first blue roses were not real roses. They were white roses painted with floral paint or set in a dye that was absorbed through the stems.
Real Blue Roses
Scientists at Suntory, a Japanese company, created the first real blue roses using genetic modification. They actually are a lilac shade, but they are called blue because they have the blue gene. The blue rose went on sale in Japan in 2009.
The Veilchenblau is a rose plant sometimes called the blue rose, but its colour is actually a range of lilac shades and it does not have the blue pigment.