What Is the Rarest Color for a Rose?

For years, "blue" roses have been available from florists, but they were really just white roses dyed blue. However, in 2004, Australian and Japanese scientists created the first blue rose using gene replacement. The result was technically a blue rose, although most people would consider the flowers more lilac or lavender in appearance.

Roses naturally occur in many shades of red, pink, yellow and white, but these beauties never possessed the genetic ability to produce blue pigments. That changed when the Australian company Florigene and the Japanese company Suntory teamed up for 13 years of research and development. They eventually unlocked the key to the world's first blue rose by substituting the delphinidin-producing gene of a pansy into a purplish-red Cardinal de Richelieu rose. The result: A bluish rose fittingly named Applause.

Roses, it turns out, are not always red:

  • For centuries, blue roses have symbolized unrequited love or the quest for the impossible.

  • Ten thousand Applause blue roses were sold in Japan in 2010 for as much as $35 (USD) a stem. The roses were not available in North America until late in 2011.

  • Rose cultivators have fantasized about a true blue rose for centuries. In 1840, horticultural societies in Britain and Belgium offered 500,000 francs to the first person able produce a blue rose. No one could.

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