ROSACEAE - The Rose Family

This is a family with around 3350 species in 122 genera, found mainly in north temperate regions of the world. They are woody and herbaceous plants, mainly perennial, but including a few annuals. The Family includes some of the most well-known garden trees and shrubs, including the Rose, Cotoneaster, Pyracantha, Exochorda and Kerria, and British native species such as Hawthorn and Rowan. Other garden plants include the Geums and Alchemilla. The Family also includes many fruits of temperate regions, including Apple, Pear, Cherry, Plum, Peach, Raspberry and Strawberry. Rosa damascena is cultivated for the production of Attar of Roses, used in the perfume industry.

Characteristics of this Plant Family:

Leaves, Stem & Roots ~ The stems are very variable. In the trees, shrubs and climbers, the stems are often woody, frequently with thorns or prickles. In the lower-growing herbaceous species, the stems are often soft and extend into runners, forming roots at the nodes or tips. The leaves are often evergreen, alternate (rarely opposite), either simple or compound, usually with a pair of stipules at their base.

Flowers ~ There is a calyx of five sepals, and often another smaller whorl of five sepal-type parts below the calyx (an epicalyx). The flowers are often large and showy, but sometimes small and individually fairly inconspicuous (e.g. Alchemilla and Filipendula). They may be borne singly, in small clusters or in spikes. There are usually five petals (but there may be four or six), and in cultivated hybrids there may be many more petals. There are many stamens.

Seeds ~ There are many different types of fruit in this Family. The fruit may be a drupe containing one large woody seed (Plum, Peach, Cherry), an aggregation of drupes, containing several seeds (Raspberry, Blackberry), a pome, the swollen stem under the flower, containing one or several seeds (Apple, Hawthorn), a hip, a fleshy fruit containing several achenes (Rose), a Pseudocarp, a fleshy fruit with achenes on the outside (Strawberry), or clusters of achenes with or without feathery tails (Geum), and the number of seeds varies from a single large stone (Plum) to millions of dust-like seeds (Filipendula, Aruncus) .

Members of this Family usually have:

Woody stems, often with prickles, or trailing stems with runners
Simple or compound leaves, often evergreen
Stipules at the base of the leaf
Large flowers with five petals or clusters of tiny flowers with five petals
Many stamens

and are usually woody trees, shrubs or climbers

Back to the Introduction to Plant Families