Parts Of The Rose

It might be illuminating to follow the example of some of the Renaissance authors and precede any discussion of the virtues of rose with a brief enumeration of the various sections of the plant noted by the Ancients, and later writers, and considered to have different properties, ‘worthy to know and useful in medicine’ says Mattioli, although he complains ‘though there are few apothecaries who place them separately”. There are six parts according to Mattioli, eight for Bauhin, since he includes the hips in his counting. Dodoens lists six, including the hips, and Parkinson five, but these latter are just not so detailed. There are two parts to the petals – confusingly written ‘folia’ in Latin which also translates as ‘leaf – the nails or ‘ungues’, the white inner parts to the petal where it joins the stem, and the rest of the petal. The ‘yellow haire’ in the centre, Dodoens explains, is called ‘anthos’ (plural anthera) in Greek, and ‘flos’ in Latin, and these terms give rise to even more confusion. ‘Flos’ usually translates as ‘flower’, while ‘anthera’ is sometimes applied to the yellow centre, but more often referred to a certain composite medicine, according to Celsus, Galen and Paulus, Mattioli tells us, of frequent use among the Ancients for ulcers of the mouth, cracks of the feet and pterygia, a growth of flesh over the nails of the hand. These yellow centres were called the ‘blowing of the rose’ by the Arabic writers. Mattioli distinguishes two parts to these centres, the thin hairs and the parts like minute seeds on top of them. The next two parts Bauhin is clearest about. The calyx, by which name, he says, some call the ball with all the petals before it opens (and this is Dodoens version), but by Bauhin’s fuller account it is the pedicle which holds the flower and ends in the solid head, covered in a kind of down, laying under the petals and flowers as the base sustaining the whole rose. This is followed by the cortex or cortices rosarum, ‘the five little leaves that stand around the bud’; that is to say the ‘shels or pils of roses’, Dodoens explains, also called the five brothers (see below for Albertus Magnus’ poem on this point). Finally, come the hips of which Mattioli lists three parts – the flesh, the down and the seeds. The latter two are Bauhin’s final two categories. Some authors, including Dodoens, go further and extend the coverage to the rose gall of wild roses, ‘the rough spongious bawle or excrescence that growth in the wilde rose bush’ as good against stone and strangury, they say. Again there is some controversy since some authors refer to this as the bedeguar, and Parkinson at least insists the bedeguar is a thistle. And still further, Culpeper refers to the worms in the gall, which ‘dried, powdered and drunk’ are good against worms of the belly ‘found by long experience of many”.