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Culture

Woo your love with engineered blue roses

Japanese beverage giant Suntory has created a mythical blue rose--except it's lavender-ish. You can woo with them starting in November.

The price of this bouquet is sure to give you the blues (or the lavenders, perhaps). Suntory

Japanese beverage maker Suntory makes some superb whiskey (Hibiki) and decent beer (Malt's), but as far as mythical flowers go, it's got a little more work to do.

Not that its creation of what it bills as the world's first rose with petals containing nearly 100 percent blue pigment isn't impressive. It's just that when I see "blue" I expect something along the lines of Facebook's background hue.

Still, there's no doubting Suntory's technical achievement in genetic engineering, which took 14 years of work in collaboration with Florigene, a subsidiary based in Australia. Blue pigment does not occur naturally in roses, but researchers in 2004 were finally able to get them to synthesize the pigment delphinidin, seen in violas.

Suntory is still working to make the rose, dubbed Applause, more blue. Meanwhile, it goes on sale in North America in early November. The distiller describes it as having "the hue of the dawn sky, with a refined and colorfully refreshing scent."

Prices will vary among florists, but a single Applause stem can be had in Japan for about 3,700 yen (roughly $48).

Pony up, you high-tech Romeos.