Taking Inventory: Rose Bush

It’s been a while since we last covered Minecraft’s beautiful flora in this column, and as we’re barrelling towards mid-winter at full pelt, we thought it’d be nice to pick an item that reminds us of spring and summer: the rose bush.

Roses were one of the first flowers in Minecraft, added all the way back in June 2009 at the same time as cloth, mushrooms, and dandelions. In The Update that Changed the World, in October 2013, they were renamed to “Poppy”, and a new item was added instead – the rose bush, which remains in the game to this day.

Rose bushes aren’t too easy to get hold of. They spawn naturally in only a few different kinds of forest. While most flowers can be bought from wandering traders, they never have rose bushes in stock – which raises the question why. Perhaps the wandering traders love roses so much they keep them all? Perhaps their llamas are allergic to roses? Perhaps roses just don’t travel well? We’ll never know.

What we do know is that rose bushes can be crafted into red dye, which is very useful if you want to make things that are red. As a writer, that’s very important to me, so I keep a lot of rose bushes around my house at all times. They’re also a handy source of nectar for bees.

Otherwise, rose bushes don’t do much else. You can’t put them in flower pots (they’re too big), and you can’t use them to make suspicious stew. Despite their thorns, they don’t deal damage when you’re walking through them (use sweet berry bushes for that instead).

But sometimes it’s just nice to have things around that are beautiful instead of being functional. Pretty sure that’s why Mojang Studios still hires me to write these columns.

In the so-called “real world”, roses are a whole family of different plants. There are more than 300 different species, and tens of thousands of “cultivars” – which are varieties of plant that have been bred for particular characteristics – colour, aroma, shape, or petal arrangement.

Real-world roses are mostly ornamental – just like in Minecraft. They’re sometimes used in commercial perfume-making, for creating hedges, and to stabilise slopes. Rose hips (the seed-bearing fruit of the plant) are sometimes made into syrup, jam, or soup. But roses are mostly there to look pretty.

That hasn’t stopped them from becoming symbolic in many cultures. In ancient Greece, the rose was associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love. In the Christianised Roman Empire, they were associated with the Virgin Mary, leading to the creation of the “Holy Rosary” prayer. And different-coloured roses symbolised the houses of York and Lancaster in the 15th-century Wars of the Roses. Today, the rose is the official national flower of the United States.

Which Minecraft flower would you pick to be the official national flower of your in-game town?

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