Roses evolved 35 million years ago. We know because we've found fossils!

There are about 150 species of rose, growing all across the Northern Hemisphere, and humans have been growing them for about 5000 years. The practice probably started in Ancient China, before spreading to Ancient Persia, where damask roses were first bred – named after the city of Damascus in Syria.

The Persians also first developed methods for obtaining rose water and rose absolute, for flavourings and fragrances.

Some people like to make fossil shark teeth into necklaces. But honestly, give me a fossil rose thorn instead, anyday!

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@InvaderXan Is that what the thorns are for?! I always assumed they were for self-defence. That's pretty cool.


@erbridge A bit of both, really. They definitely keep animals from eating them, but they also have that slightly hooked shape so their stems can catch hold of things to grow along. Same with related species like raspberries and blackberries.

@meena @erbridge
Purely because they didn't need them, if I understand things correctly. Wild roses are specialised to climb and ramble.

Apples, on the other hand, are free standing trees. They don't need to climb, and their softer shoots need no defences because they're out of reach of small, nibbling animals.

I suspect some of the free standing rose cultivars humans have bred, if left alone for evolution to do its thing, would eventually lose their thorns too.

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