Yellow roses have a shorter, albeit no less fascinating, history than other roses. It wasn't until around the 18th century that yellow roses were discovered growing naturally in parts of the Middle East. Prior to this, roses in cultivation predominantly existed in various shades of pink and to a lesser extent, white. However, once the first yellow roses were introduced, their popularity quickly spread.
During roughly this same time period, new rose cross-breeding and hybridization techniques were being innovated. These experiments would play an important role in the evolution of the yellow rose. One of the more compelling attributes of most roses is their sweet smelling fragrance. This was a trait that the first yellow roses did not share, and in fact, quite the opposite was true! In time however, as breeding and cultivation methods were refined, hybridizers were able to gradually phase in the more pleasing aroma that rose-lovers are accustomed to.
Also changed over the years were the meanings related to yellow roses. Throughout history, the color yellow has been closely associated with the sun. As the source of light and warmth, the sun is integral to life on Earth, and has been worshiped in many early societies. It should come as no surprise that the color of the sun would hold many positive connotations. In many Eastern cultures, for example, the color yellow represents joy, wisdom and power. However, in Europe at the time of the introduction of these roses, the color yellow carried much more negative overtones. Consequently, yellow roses were long used as a symbol for jealousy and dying love. As time went on, however, the more universal meanings connected with the color yellow have come to prevail and entwine themselves with the yellow rose. Today yellow roses are more commonly associated with joy and friendship.
A bouquet of yellow roses now brings to mind all of the sunny, cheerful feelings of warmth and happiness. In contrast to the romantic meanings attributed to other roses, the yellow rose is purely a symbol for friendship. This gives it a unique place in the pantheon of roses. Yellow roses can send the perfect message of appreciation and platonic love without the romantic subtext of other colors. They can represent feelings of joy and delight, and are an ideal way to brighten someone's day who may be feeling down. There is perhaps no other flower that is able to bring out a smile in quite the way that a yellow rose can.