Are Black Roses Always About Death?

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Thirty-five million years ago — that’s how far back a rose was discovered. So it’s one of the oldest species of flowers, not just a popular Valentine’s Day gift. Small wonder then that roses are the most recognized flowers in the world. Although red, white and yellow are what you see most, another color has been a sought-after shade for the intense, the singular and the very particular: black.

Black roses are a standout. But here’s the thing about this seemingly somber buds: it’s unnatural. No rose species blooms in this dark palette, and when it does come in “black,” it’s been dyed or cross-bred with other species. Some of these dark buds are the black bacarra rose, which has the darkest tint in its petals than other “black roses,” and the black magic rose, which has a beautiful scent.

Both “black roses” aren’t true black because when you look closely, these roses have a burgundy or deep purple color to them. Deceptive, you say? Probably. It must be why a black rose has all sorts of bad and good rep attached to them.

When the color black is involved, expect the usual conflicting ideas behind it: death, sorrow, elegance.

So if you get a black rose tattoo, will it mean death or that you’re just into elegant things?

What’s the Meaning Behind a Black Rose?

Black Rose
Photo by amirali mirhashemian on Unsplash

A black rose tattoo’s meaning is like any tattoo’s: it’ll depend on the person wearing it. Different tattoos come with varying meanings, symbolizing a perspective unique to the person. When you get a black rose tattoo, it doesn’t have to mean death or mourning.

Your raven rose can also mean the following:


A new chapter in your life could be symbolized with a tattoo of a black rose. You could even send a bouquet to someone who may be entering a new career, someone who’s successfully completed a life-changing program or a loved one who’s beginning life as a single person.

Carnal love

The traditional rose tattoo is generally seen as the symbol for passion. But turns out so is a black rose tattoo, specifically to basic physical appetites.

The end (separation)

For a flower that is widely considered to represent death, it makes sense for it to also signify the end of a relationship. The parting of ways. Some people use a single stem of black rose to tell another person they’re calling it quits. Of course, this is assuming the other person knows what black roses are about. Otherwise, you’d just be muddling your message if you sent one.

Love beyond death

Something that symbolizes carnal desires can only mean something so potent beyond life as we know it. When someone pledges their undying devotion with a dozen dark blooms, they may be telling you their love transcends death.

Power and strength

Black doesn’t have to spell doom and gloom. These days, it typically represents power and strength.

The supernatural

And speaking of “power and strength,” what could represent force than supernatural beings. Some people in the old days used to think black roses symbolized witches or vampires. This is likely why you’ll find the obsidian buds in gothic settings.

Tragedy or hatred

Black roses may also represent a dark period in your life; maybe something awful happens, maybe a relationship ends in acrimony.

A black rose doesn’t always mean something bad or doesn’t have to symbolize anything nefarious. In an era when rock n’ roll music ruled and people could smoke in hospitals and kids played outdoors, a rose tattoo usually symbolized something good in a guy’s life.

What Does a Rose Tattoo Mean on a Guy?

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

Tattoo art is deeply personal.

The same black rose tattoo design on two different guys will likely mean differently for each. So there’s no unifying special meaning when a dude gets inked with roses, black or any other color.

Rose tattoos for men in the past, particularly sailors, used to symbolize the women in their lives. The inked blooms could’ve been about their girlfriend or wife or mother. A tattoo of a black rose may have represented the depth of one’s love; it could also have meant the demise of a relationship or it may have been a symbolic way to honor the memory of someone. The addition of other elements, like a vine tattoo or a skull, naturally skewed the meaning toward those elements.

The point is: the meaning of black roses is not all about death and mourning and loss. It can signify a revival, an awakening in your life. So if you’re thinking of getting one, don’t hold back because of the “shadowy shade.”

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