Roses have been the most beloved flowers from the ancient time all over the world. Cleopatra and the Roman Emperor Nero mass-cultivated roses using the petals in a large quantity in their palace. Most of the roses grown currently (botanical name: Rosa hybrida) have been generated by artificial hybridization breeding from about 8 wild rose species in the world. Everblooming roses as well as yellow and orange roses were also produced as a result of extensive breeding. It is well known that Joséphine, the wife of Napoleon, produced many varieties by hybridization in the garden of her Château de Malmaison. These varieties are the roots of many roses currently grown.
The term "blue rose" signifies "the impossible" and "a non-existent object." This is because although many attempts were made to produce blue roses, these attempts failed no matter how many times hybridization was repeated since roses did not have the ability to produce blue pigments (delphinidin) contained in many blue flowers. Our challenge to produce blue roses started with the "hope to brighten up and encourage people in the world by producing blue flowers signifying happiness," the "belief that blue roses could be produced by synthesizing blue pigments in roses with biotechnologies," and the "notion that this project matched with the corporate DNA of Suntory, Yatte Minahare - Go for it!" This research project was started in 1990, and after 14 years, the success of the development was finally announced in 2004. Great responses were received on the "birth of the first blue roses in the world with blue pigments in their petals." Subsequently, permits necessary for production and marketing of the genetically modified roses were obtained in 2008. Since 2009, they have been put on sale as "SUNTORY blue rose APPLAUSE" (signifying "dreams come true" in the language of flowers), and they are well accepted in the market with prestigious images.