Rose of May Floral water France

Once growing thickly over the Provencal hills, the Centifolia rose, the name referring its profusion of petals, has become one of the symbols of Grasse’s agricultural past and present-day industry. Like jasmine, the flower brought the City of Grasse world renown. Along with the Damask rose, it is one of only two species of rose grown for their fragrance. Steam distillation of the Centifolia rose petals only produces May rose water, for there is not sufficient yield to produce essential oil. May rose absolute is obtained via ethanol extraction of the concrete. Exuding a rich, sweet fragrance, the Centifolia rose is the very expression of the rose, with a characteristic herbaceous note, found in the floral water and in absolute. The May rose has a prestigious fragrance and boasts the distinguished elegance of timeless femininity. It is also celebrated for its many applications in skin care.
In the past, Centifolia rose was grown in Provence, particularly in Grasse, for which it serves as symbol. Such crops are now mostly found in Pégomas, France. It is also grown in Morocco, where it was introduced in 1941. The “hundred-petalled” flowers are picked from late April to early June, depending on the year, often with a more intensified blooming period May 10-15, hence the name “May rose.” To preserve the sweet fragrance of the May rose, the flowers are gathered at dawn, just as they bloom, and are then extraction-processed while fresh. The pickers seize the flowers in their fingers with a twisting motion to detach the bloom. An average picker can harvest six kilograms of fresh flowers an hour.

Centifolia, Moss Rose ‘Crested Moss’




36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 °C (-30 °F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 °C (-25 °F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

Bloom Color:

Medium pink (mp)

Bloom Shape:




Flower Fragrance:

Very Fragrant

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer



Patent Information:


Other Details:

Susceptible to mildew

Prone to weak stems

Pruning Instructions:

Blooms on old wood; prune after flowering

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Propagation Methods:

From semi-hardwood cuttings

By grafting

Foliage Color:

Unknown – Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are fragrant

Water Requirements:

Unknown – Tell us

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Wakefield, Massachusetts

Crown Point, New York

Gilmer, Texas

Sumas, Washington

The Rose Journal

As I was reviewing my rose photographs during our latest snow storm, trying to envision what our garden will look like in just a few more months, I came across some photos of Crested Moss. I had taken these photos when we visited the Giardino delle Rose in Florence, Italy a few years ago and it was the first time I had ever seen a moss rose.

I recall walking through the rose garden that day and being delighted when I spotted Crested Moss (also known as Chapeau de Napoleon because the moss-covered sepals surrounding the buds are reminiscent of the tri-cornered hat Napoleon wore). Moss roses are unique because of this distinctive moss-like growth around the buds and bases of the flowers. In the photo above, you can see that the terminal bloom is encircled by at least 10 buds with pink petals peeking through what is often described as parsley-like growth. What a photo opportunity!

Moss roses are believed to have originated as sports, or mutations of centifolia roses. The mossy growth has a strong pine or balsamic fragrance most noticeable if the mossy growth is rubbed between your fingers.

Crested Moss is a “Found Rose,” discovered in 1827. It has rich, clear pink flowers with a yellow button eye in the center, a damask, spicy fragrance and is known for its disease resistant. It clearly looked disease-free in Florence with its unblemished foliage. It blooms once in late spring to early summer for several weeks. Our visit to Giardino delle Rose was in late May just as Crested Moss, as well as the rest of the garden, began to bloom.

We have never grown moss roses since we felt that they wouldn’t tolerate the hot, humid mid-summer Rhode Island weather. Now, after seeing the picture of Crested Moss again, I may just give it a try.

Read Full Post “

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *