• Issue: October 1981
  • Designer: A. Glaser

In Israel and the adjoining countries of the Middle East wild roses grow in forests and woods to this very day. The rose was a wild flower recorded even in ancient times. Although the Hebrew word "Vered" does not appear anywhere in the Bible, this is not to say that there were no roses in the Holy Land in Biblical times.

Among the most conspicuous of wild roses growing in Israel - in the Sharon plains, on Mount Carmel, on the Samaria hills and in the Galilee mountains - is the Rosa Phoenicia with its delicate white clusters flowering from May until August.

There are also some types of Rosa Canina, apart from the local white roses. Additional species of roses from abroad were brought to Israel, amongst them the Rosa Damascena, also known as the Damask Rose. Its origin is not certain but some say its parentage links it to the Rosa Phoenicia and without doubt to the Rosa Gallica. The growing of Damask roses in Israel created a revolution in gardening, and the Damask rose quickly attained pride of place of all the roses at the time of the "Mishna"(c.600 BCE). Rose plantations were located near Jericho and Jerusalem and supplied rose oil, perfume and rose water. According to Jewish sources, rose growing was practised during the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah, primarily in the gardens of the First Temple in Jerusalem, and it is believed that the rose was of high economic value in those days.

In time, more new rose varieties were introduced by monastic orders who brought them from their mother countries in Europe, mainly for the decoration of churches and chapels, for marriages and other joyful occasions and for the preparation of rose water used for baptising.

The end of the 19th century (1875) marked the beginning of Jewish agricultural settlement on a large scale, encouraged by Baron E. de Rothschild, who visited the country in 1887 and expressed his aspiration of turning the Israel of his time into a land of wine, perfume and silk, in the hope that the settlers would be able to earn their living by exporting products to Europe. More than 100 acres of Damask roses were planted and developed by the Galilee and Judea settlements. The Baron's dream of settling the Galilee economically on the basis of perfume manufacture did not materialise but rose growing has never stopped.

The third stamp in the series depicts a modern Hybrid Tea type rose. With the rise of the State of Israel a complete re-orientation in rose growing took place and continues in full swing today. In comparison to a few thousand blooms sold locally in the early 50's, today more than 200 million rose blooms are exported annually in the winter months to European markets and, since 1964, more than 1 billion rose flowers have been exported.

Garden roses grow in all regions of the country and bloom abundantly almost all year round. Today the rose is a fully fledged citizen in the private and public gardens of Israel, as well as contributing to the economy of the country.

The rose is the symbol of perfection, beauty and peace, the perfume of the gods and the joy of Man; it is rightly called the "Queen of Flowers".

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Roses in Israel