Will Valentine’s Day 2010 be all about the blue rose?

The flower required 20 years of research

The world’s first genetically-modified blue rose is about to hit flower shops in Japan.

The floral division of Japanese whiskey-and-beer giant Suntory have called it the ‘Applause‘ and said that the unique flower bloomed from 20 years of research.

Genetically, there is no natural blue pigmentation in the rose to allow a true blue rose to be bred by conventional methods. The pastel-blue colour (which actually looks a bit purplish) was derived by implanting the blue pigment Delphinidin from petunias.

Sales start on 3 Nov and initially the rose will be limited to Tokyo – there are no plans for overseas sales at the moment because of limited production. And the other bad news is that they are very pricey – a single stem will cost between 2,000 and 3,000 yen – $22 to $33. That’s roughly 10 times more expensive than normal.

Talk of blue roses is not new. Faux blue roses were traditionally created by dyeing white roses. According to the Victorians, who promoted floriography – the language of flowers – blue roses signified mystery or the attempt to attain the impossible.

Since those times the colour of a rose has represented a different sentiment or feeling. Passion and romantic love is still associated with red roses. Pink roses apparently imply a less passionate affection – rather a more gentle or poetic one. White roses signal sincerity and purity, while yellow roses stand for friendship.

Sarah Holland from the Flowers and Plants Association in the UK says she believes natural blue roses ‘would be hugely in demand’. Dyed-blue roses, which are also a soft purple colour, sell well in the UK, she says. ‘They don’t appeal to everyone because they are unnatural, but there is definitely a place for them. They are, for example, popular for weddings.’

What do you think a blue rose would signify? Would you like to receive one? Add your comments below…

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