World's First Blue Roses
The world's first blue roses have been unveiled following nearly two decades of scientific research.
The blooms are genetically modified and have been implanted with a gene that simulates the synthesis of blue pigment in pansies.
The Blue Rose was developed by Suntory Flowers
The flowers, which were displayed at the International Flower Expo Tokyo, will soon go on sale commercially.
Megumi Mitsunaga, a spokeswoman for IFEX, said: "This is the first time that these blue roses have been put on display in public.
"They are attracting lots of attention here because they are so unusual."
The creation of blue roses – long thought to be impossible – was masterminded by an Australian-based subsidiary of Suntory, a Japanese company.
The firm has invested three billion yen in the creation of blue roses, blue carnations and other blue flowers since 1990.
Its scientists successfully pioneered implanting the gene that produces Delphinidin, the primary plant pigment that produces a blue hue but is not found naturally in roses.
The world's first genetically modified blue roses were created in the laboratory four years ago, although further research was required to make them safe to grow in nature.
Following the cultivation of test batches in the United States and America, the company will be ready to sell them from next year and aims to open up a global market for blue flowers worth an estimated 30 billion yen.
Having been cultivated for more than 5,000 years, as many as 25,000 different species of roses currently exist, although colours are traditionally limited to red, pink, yellow and white.
A blue rose has long been synonymous with the unattainable, from signifying unrequited love in Chinese folklore to its Victorian era connotations of symbolising a quest for the impossible.
Those inspired by the image of a blue rose range from Rudyard Kipling who penned poems about the unnaturally-hued blooms to a string of characters featuring in modern day Japanese "anime" animation.
Blue roses have been available in florists in recent years but until now, they have been created by using various dying techniques to stain the petals of naturally white roses. However, the Suntory roses are believed to be the first genetically-modified blue rose creations.
The blue roses were among 860 exhibits on display at the fifth annual IFEX, the largest flower and garden trade show which often attracts over 30,000 visitors.
Other highlights included glow-in-the-dark roses showcased in an array of pastel hues in dark boxes, having been genetically modified to light up in the dark.