Roses are red,

they smell really sweet.

But thorns they do have,

and that's not so neat.

Sigh. Another attempt at poetry gone awry. Yet we must press on. We must try and try!

In addition to being the subject of countless poems, roses are one of the most popular and recognizable flowers in the world today. A dozen of them can make your sweetheart swoon on Valentine's Day!

Roses have been around a long, long time. Native to the United States, the oldest fossilized rose imprint was found on a slate deposit in Florissant, Colorado. Scientists believe it is 35 million years old!

Roses have been such a popular flower over the years that gardeners have developed several thousand different types of roses! In fact, some experts estimate there are more than 30,000 different varieties of roses around the world today.

Roses are mentioned often in music lyrics and literature. They symbolize strong emotions, such as love and romance. Depending upon the color of the rose, it can have many specific meanings.

For example, yellow roses represent friendship. White roses symbolize purity and sincerity. The most popular, the red rose, conveys feelings of romance and passion.

The delicate petals of roses contain oils that can be used to make various perfumes and fragrances. Have you ever noticed how many perfumes try to mimic the sweet natural smell of a fresh rose?

Unfortunately, almost all roses also come with thorns. Or do they? Although most people use the term "thorn" to describe those sharp protrusions that line most rose stems, botanists would actually call them by another name: "prickles."

In botanical terms, "thorn" describes a sharp, strong protrusion that is embedded into the woody structure of a plant's stem or branches. Thorns usually can't be broken off easily. "Prickles," on the other hand, are smaller outgrowths from a plant's outer layers, known as the epidermis. Since they don't have deep roots within the plant, prickles are much easier to break off.

Unless you're a botanist, you probably don't know about prickles, so we'll call them thorns for purposes of our discussion. The bushes that roses usually grow on can be a prickly (pun totally intended!) danger to unsuspecting hands attempting to grab a precious flower. Some scientists speculate that roses might have thorns to protect them from being eaten by animals attracted by their wonderful smell.

Not all roses have thorns, though. Most do, but there are a very few varieties of completely thornless roses. There are also several varieties of “nearly thornless" roses, which just have fewer thorns spaced farther apart than typical roses. These types of roses are great for planting along walkways or using in gardens tended by younger children.

Wonder What's Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is a bit mercurial!