Rose Wangari Maathai - A Tribute to a Kenyan Environmentalist and Social Activist

A heartwarming floral tribute to the legacy of the late champion conservationist and rights campaigner.

By: THURSD. | 29-05-2024 | 4 min read
Floral Education Roses Sustainability
Rose Wangari Maathai: Honoring the Kenyan Environmentalist and Social Activist

In a unique tribute to the late Wangari Maathai, a renowned Kenyan environmentalist and the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Red Lands Roses, a Kenyan grower of Haute Couture roses, whose farm is located near the capital, Nairobi, collaborated with French the French Embassy in the country, breeder Georges Delbard, and the Wangari Maathai Foundation to launch a rose variety fittingly named Rose Wangari Maathai. 

Rose Wangari Maathai is not just another flower in the wide field of Kenyan floriculture. It is also a unique flower that pays homage to the environmental icon whose name it carries. The collaborative initiative not only honors the late Maathai's legacy but also supports her environment and ecological causes, which she held dear. Here’s all about this variety and the icon it represents.

Rose Wangari Maathai’s Idea Conceptualization and Its Cultivation

The idea of developing the Rose Wangari Maathai was conceived through a collaborative effort between the French Embassy, renowned French breeder Georges Delbard, Red Lands Roses, and the Wangari Maathai Foundation. 


Rose Wangari Maathai: Honoring the Kenyan Environmentalist and Social Activist
Red Lands Roses' Rose Wangari Maathai bred by French breeder Georges Delbard


It came into being after, having read the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s memoir, discussions materialized among the pertinent parties involved. Inspired by the late Maathai's legacy, the initiative was, accordingly, keen to find a way to honor her memory and contribute to continuing her outstanding work.

Thus, at Red Lands Roses, she found a kindred spirit – a flower company equally passionate about sustainability and community empowerment. That is also where the rose found a home thereafter.


The late Wangari Maathai
The late Wangari Maathai, a renowned Kenyan environmentalist, and the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate
Photo by Alewa


During its launch, a statement from Red Lands Roses said:

“We are delighted to introduce our variety Wangari Maathai, named after Kenyan social, environmental, and political activist and the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, in collaboration with Delbard and the Green Belt Movement. With this rose, we are pleased to be able to pay tribute to the late Wangari Maathai’s journey.”


Rose Wangari Maathai: Honoring the Kenyan Environmentalist and Social Activist
Sally Share, the Country Manager for Georges Delbard cradles a bunch of Rose Wangari Maathai flowers.


Rose Wangari Maathai was, thus, first unveiled and planted as a trial in October 2019, and was later commercially launched in March 2023. Its reception in the market, according to the grower, has been promising, with customers appreciating its neutral color palette, long stems of up to 90 cm, and good vase life of at least 12 days. 

The delicate garden spray rose wearing a timeless nude shade is, therefore, a perfect addition to the grower’s vast collection, and also an ideal choice for florists, floral designers, or anyone who loves and is enthusiastic about roses and also cares about environmental and social justice. 


Rose Wangari Maathai: Honoring the Kenyan Environmentalist and Social Activist
Rose Wangari Maathai at Red Lands Roses


Contributing to the Causes She Held Dear to Her Heart

As part of its commitment to honoring the late Maathai's work, Red Lands Roses entered into an agreement with the Wangari Maathai Foundation, whereby a percentage of the sales from each stem of the Rose Wangari Maathai is donated to the Foundation. The grower committed to donating €0.06 to the Foundation for every stem sold.

This ensures that the rose not only delights its admirers but also contributes directly to the continuance of the late Maathai’s environmental and social justice cause and initiatives, through the Green Belt Movement which she founded. Perhaps more than this, Rose Wangari Maathai demonstrates how her contribution to society through environmentalism, and social justice influences society today.


Rose Wangari Maathai: Honoring the Kenyan Environmentalist and Social Activist
Delbard's Arnaud Delbard with Rose Wangari Maathai flowers.


The rose's ideal qualities definitely make for the elements that floral designers would love to work with, in their flower creations and compositions. Its makings, essentially, are unique characteristics reminiscent of the late Maathai's industrious efforts to promote sustainable development, empower women, and protect the environment.

Promoting Environmental Awareness and Sustainable Development

On its launch, the French Embassy, a key partner in this initiative, praised the rose, recognizing its significance in promoting ecological conservation awareness and sustainable development.


Rose Wangari Maathai: Honoring the Kenyan Environmentalist and Social Activist
A bouquet of Rose Wangari Maathai at Red Lands Roses


The rose, according to the Embassy, also presents a beautiful homage to an extraordinary woman who dedicated her life to protecting the environment and enabling women.

Such has been the case for Red Lands Roses, a grower, and exporter of premium spray, garden, mini as well as T-hybrid roses of among the highest quality anywhere. Led by its CEO Disha Copreaux, Red Lands Roses' varieties come in a range of at least 180. The grower, whose roses were on showcase during Le Printemps Palladien, also, has policies in place that support women’s empowerment in the company.


Rose Wangari Maathai: Honoring the Kenyan Environmentalist and Social Activist
Rose Wangari Maathai bred by Georges Delbard and grown by Red Lands Roses.


For all that, it is the unique qualities that this rose possesses, that all contribute to more than just the floral beauty that flowers offer. In its own ways, it also contributes to the realization of a worthy cause.



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