A rose is a perennial flowering shrub or vine of the genus Rosa, within the family Rosaceae that contains over 100 species. The species form a group of erect shrubs, and climbing or trailing plants, with stems that are often armed with sharp thorns. Most are native to Asia, with smaller numbers of species native to Europe, North America, and northwest Africa. Natives, cultivars and hybrids are all widely grown for their beauty and fragrance. Roses are popular garden shrubs, as well as the most popular and commonly sold florists' flowers. In addition to their great economic importance as a florist's crop, roses are also of great value to the perfume industry.
The rose has always been valued for its beauty and has a long history of symbolism. The ancient Greeks and Romans identified the rose with their goddesses of love referred to as Aphrodite and Venus. In Rome, a wild rose would be placed on the door of a room where secret or confidential matters were discussed. The phrase sub rosa, or "under the rose", means to keep a secret derived from this ancient Roman practice. Early Christians identified the five petals of the rose with the five wounds of Christ. Despite this interpretation, their leaders were hesitant to adopt it because of its association with Roman excesses and pagan ritual. The red rose was eventually adopted as a symbol of the blood of the Christian martyrs. Roses also later came to be associated with the Virgin Mary. Rose culture came into its own in Europe in the 1800s with the introduction of perpetual blooming roses from China. There are currently thousands of varieties of roses developed for bloom shape, size, fragrance and even for lack of prickles.
Roses are ancient symbols of love and beauty. The rose was sacred to a number of goddesses (including Isis and Aphrodite), and is often used as a symbol of the Virgin Mary. A red rose (often held in a hand) is a symbol of socialism or social democracy.
A rose tattoo with thorns still on it represents the other side of love. A tattoo of a rose with prominent thorns - the thorns being the means by which the rose protects itself - reminds us that beauty does not come without sacrifice and that caution must be exercised, lest the prick of the thorn draw blood. Love is not without risk. Ecstasy does not come without it's share of agony. The thorny rose tattoo is a perfect way for people to remind themselves of these things.