Why do roses have thorns

This is a question that can be understood and answered in two ways, philosophically and scientifically. Philosophically, roses are synonymous with beauty and love, but the close thorns however, remind us of things that are beautiful, and yet have some hurt attached to it. This is an old cliché, one that is popular around the globe, and it imparts on us an important lesson of life. Philosophy apart, the scientific reason as to why rosebushes are filled with thorns, explains this phenomenon as a natural defense mechanism of the plant. Roses are popular targets for bees and other insects that help in pollination because of the wonderful fragrance of the flower. Although the fragrance of the rose is primarily to attract insects, animals are also attracted by the smell and that puts the rose bushes in danger of being consumed by some herbivorous animal. This is where the sharp thorns come in use because animals that might try to eat the plant would be soon deterred by the pain inflicted by the sharp thorns. It is found that the roses that have the strongest fragrance also might have the longest and sharpest thorns to protect itself from constant attention of the herbivores. The defense mechanism of growing thorns, prickles or spines to protect themselves can also be seen on bougainvilleas, pyracanthas, raspberries and so many others.

Thorns on a rose bush develop much before the actual flower. This happens because buds and young roses might be eaten away by animals before the flowers get a chance to spread their pollen with the help of insects, if they do not have a sharp thorn system already. Wild roses are found to have sharper and denser thorn systems than the ones we see in a nursery or in a green house. It is perhaps the lack of necessity of the defense mechanism within the protected walls that has prompted the rose bushes to develop less effective thorns over many generations. A more factual reason is that the rose breeders have cross bred different species of roses in such a manner that the resultant species has fewer thorns and more flowers.