Review paper on genetic diversity of damask rose (Rosa damascena Mill.) and economic importance of its oil


K.W. Hussen*

The genus Rosa consists of more than 200 species. Among these Rosa damascena Mill belongs to the Damask group of roses which are known for their strong fragrance. R. damascena has been cultivated as garden rose in some west European collections but it is mainly grown for production of rose oil and rose water obtained after steam distillation of the rose flowers. It is considered that the oil rose originates from ancient Persia (today Iran) and has been later spread to Europe and Northern Africa. By the 14th century the Damask roses were already grown in West European rose collections as garden roses. Rose oil is mainly used in the perfumery and cosmetics industry as a base component of many of the modern perfumes but it also finds application in the food industry as a flavor additive. The main producers of rose oil are Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran and India. Smaller amounts of rose oil and mainly rose water are produced in the countries of Northern Africa. The price of the rose oil has been growing during the last years. The rose oil and rose flower extracts have been studied for a number of health-beneficial effects including antibacterial activity, antioxidant activity, anti-infective and anti-inflammatory properties, relaxant effects on tracheal chains and anti-HIV activity.

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