The yellow rose might be younger than all the other rose colors, but that doesn’t make its history and meaning any less fascinating. Yellow roses were first discovered in the wild at parts of the Middle East during the 18th century. Before its discovery, roses were cultivated in shades of red, pink, and white. Once the first yellow roses were introduced to Europe, however, their popularity quickly grew.
At around the time the yellow rose was introduced to the West, hybridization techniques and experiments on flower cross-breeding were being innovated and perfected. These experiments played an important part in the evolution of the yellow rose.
What draws people to most flowers is their subtle, sweet-smelling fragrance – a trait that yellow roses from the Middle East did not share. In fact, the opposite was true; the first yellow roses had a pungent, unpleasant odor. Breeding and cultivation methods changed this, and rose hybridizers were able to slowly introduce the pleasing aroma that rose lovers enjoy.
As the yellow rose evolved, so did the meanings people attach to it. The color yellow is associated with the sun, the source of life and warmth. The first civilizations worshipped the sun as a god because of its key importance to life on Earth. It’s no big surprise that for many Eastern cultures, the vivid color of the sun would hold positive meanings such as wisdom, joy, and power. When the yellow rose was brought to 18th century Europe, however, the color yellow had more negative overtones.
As such, yellow roses were used as a symbol for dying love and jealousy for a long time. However, its negative meaning eventually got replaced by the more universal, positive meaning of the color yellow. Today, people commonly associate yellow flowers with joy, friendship, and delight.