Comprehensive Description


Trees, shrubs or herbs. Stipules present. Leaves alternate (in ours), opposite or whorled, simple or compound. Flowers actinomorphic, usually bisexual, perigynous or epigynous. Calyx lobes usually 5; epicalyx sometimes present (Alchemilla). Petals as many as calyx lobes, rarely 0 (Alchemilla). Stamens usually numerous. Carpels 1-many, free or connate; ovules usually 2, rarely 1 or several. Fruit an achene, drupe, follicle or pome, very rarely a capsule.  
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© Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten and Petra Ballings

Source: Flora of Zimbabwe


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Foodplant / miner
solitary larva of Agromyza potentillae mines leaf of Rosaceae

Foodplant / miner
larva of Agromyza sulfuriceps mines leaf of Rosaceae

Plant / epiphyte
fruitbody of Aleurodiscus aurantius grows on Rosaceae

Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Allantus cinctus grazes on live leaf of Rosaceae

Foodplant / feeds on
larva of Anthonomus rubi feeds on Rosaceae
Other: minor host/prey

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Entoloma niphoides is associated with Rosaceae
Remarks: season: usually spring

Foodplant / parasite
fruitbody of Entoloma saepium parasitises live root of Rosaceae
Remarks: season: spring & summer

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Glaphyra umbellatarum feeds within dead wood of Rosaceae
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / feeds on
larva of Gnorimus nobilis feeds on Rosaceae

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Gracilia minuta feeds within dead, dry wood (twig) of Rosaceae

Foodplant / gall
hypophyllous aecium of Gymnosporangium clavariiforme causes gall of live leaf of Rosaceae
Remarks: season: 7-9+

Foodplant / open feeder
imago of Lucanus cervus grazes on fruit of Rosaceae

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / miner
larva of Magdalis barbicornis mines below cambium of dead twig of Rosaceae

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Magdalis cerasi feeds within dead twig, small branch of Rosaceae

Foodplant / feeds on
Magdalis ruficornis feeds on dead twig of Rosaceae

Plant / resting place / on
adult of Orsodacne humeralis may be found on flower of Rosaceae
Remarks: season: 3-6

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Phytobia carbonaria feeds within twig (cambium) of Rosaceae
Other: sole host/prey

Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Priophorus pallipes grazes on leaf of Rosaceae

Plant / associate
imago of Rhynchites caeruleus is associated with trees and shrubs of Rosaceae

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Rhynchites germanicus feeds within Rosaceae

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Tetrops praeustus feeds within moribund branch of Rosaceae
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / feeds on
Thrips fuscipennis feeds on live leaf of Rosaceae

Plant / resting place / within
larva of Thrips major may be found in live flower of Rosaceae
Remarks: season: 5-9
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / saprobe
apothecium of Vibrissea leptospora is saprobic on damp, dead twig of Rosaceae
Remarks: season: 3-9
Other: minor host/prey


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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records:7507
Specimens with Sequences:10830
Specimens with Barcodes:6887
Species With Barcodes:1652
Public Records:4422
Public Species:1360
Public BINs:0
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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)


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Barcode data

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)


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Not to be confused with Rosacea.

Rosaceae (the rose family) is a medium-sized family of flowering plants, including about 2830 species in 95 genera.[1] The name is derived from the type genus Rosa. Among the most species-rich genera are Alchemilla (270), Sorbus (260), Crataegus (260), Cotoneaster (260), Rubus (250),[1] and Prunus (plums, cherries, peaches, apricots, and almonds) with about 200 species.[2] However, all of these numbers should be seen as estimates - much taxonomic work remains.

Rosaceae includes herbs, shrubs and trees. Most species are deciduous, but some are evergreen.[3] They have a worldwide range, but are most diverse in the Northern Hemisphere.

Several economically important products come from the Rosaceae, including many edible fruits (such as apples, pears, quinces, apricots, plums, cherries, peaches, raspberries, loquats, and strawberries), almonds, and ornamental trees and shrubs (such as roses, meadowsweets, photinias, firethorns, rowans, and hawthorns).[3]


The Rosaceae have a cosmopolitan distribution (found nearly everywhere except for Antarctica), but are primarily concentrated in the Northern Hemisphere in regions that are not desert or tropical rainforest.[1]


The family was traditionally divided into six subfamilies: Rosoideae, Spiraeoideae, Maloideae (Pomoideae), Amygdaloideae (Prunoideae), Neuradoideae, and Chrysobalanoideae, and most of these were treated as families by various authors.[4] More recently, Chrysobalanoideae has also been treated as a family, but also in Rosales,[5] but is placed in Malpighiales in molecular analyses. Neuradoideae has been assigned to Malvales. Schulze-Menz, in Engler's Syllabus edited by Melchior (1964) recognized Rosoideae, Dryadoideae, Lyonothamnoideae, Spireoideae, Amygdaloideae, and Maloideae.[6] They were primarily diagnosed by the structure of the fruits. More recent work has identified that not all of these groups were monophyletic. Hutchinson (1964) and Kalkmann (2004) recognized only tribes (17 and 21, respectively). Takhtajan (1997) delimited 10 subfamilies: Filipenduloideae, Rosoideae, Ruboideae, Potentilloideae, Coleogynoideae, Kerroideae, Amygdaloideae (Prunoideae), Spireoideae, Maloideae (Pyroideae), Dichotomanthoideae, and 21 tribes. A more modern model comprises three subfamilies, one of which (Rosoideae) has largely remained the same. A cladogram of the family[6] is:



 Rosodae nom. illeg.;




Potentilleae (including Fragaria)





(previously Amygdaloideae sensu stricto)



 Kerriodae nom. illeg.


Exochordeae (syn.: Osmaronieae, nom. illeg.)

 Pyrodae nom. illeg.


(previously Maloideae sensu lato)




(previously Maloideae (or Pomoideae) sensu stricto)

Three cladistic analyses were done in 1999 by Rodger Evans, one based on the phenotype, one on molecules, and the 3rd combined.[7] The only major difference in the results with the above cladogram is the position of Kerria, which is basal in Evans and embedded in Spireoideae in Potter et al.

While the boundaries of Rosaceae are not disputed, there is not general agreement as to how many genera into which it should be divided. Areas of divergent opinion include the treatment of Potentilla s.l. and Sorbus s.l.. Compounding the problem is the fact that apomixis is common in several genera. This results in an uncertainty in the number of species contained in each of these genera, due to the difficulty of dividing apomictic complexes into species. For example, Cotoneaster contains between 70 and 300 species, Rosa around 100 (including the taxonomically complex dog roses), Sorbus 100 to 200 species, Crataegus between 200 and 1,000, Alchemilla contains around 300 species, Potentilla roughly 500, and Rubus hundreds, or possibly even thousands of species.


Rosaceae can be trees, shrubs, or herbaceous plants. The herbs are mostly perennials, but some annuals also exist.[8]


The leaves are generally arranged spirally, but have an opposite arrangement in some species. They can be simple or pinnately compound (either odd- or even-pinnate). Compound leaves appear in around 30 genera. The leaf margin is most often serrate. Paired stipules are generally present, and are a primitive feature within the family, independently lost in many groups of Amygdaloideae (previously called Spiraeoideae).[6] The stipules are sometimes adnate (attached surface to surface)[9] to the petiole. Glands or extrafloral nectaries may be present on leaf margins or petioles. Spines may be present on the midrib of leaflets and the rachis of compound leaves.


Flowers of plants in the rose family are generally described as "showy".[10] They are actinomorphic (i.e. radially symmetrical) and almost always hermaphroditic. Rosaceae generally have five sepals, five petals, and many spirally arranged stamens. The bases of the sepals, petals, and stamens are fused together to form a characteristic cup-like structure called a hypanthium. They can be arranged in racemes, spikes, or heads; solitary flowers are rare.

Fruits and seeds[edit]

The fruits come in many varieties and were once considered the main characters for the definition of subfamilies amongst Rosaceae, giving rise to a fundamentally artificial subdivision. They can be follicles, capsules, nuts, achenes, drupes (Prunus), and accessory fruits, like the pome of an apple, or the hip of a rose. Many fruits of the family are edible, but their seeds often contain amygdalin, which can be converted to cyanide during digestion.[11]


Identified clades include:

Economic importance[edit]

The rose family is probably one of the six most economically important crop plant families,[12] and includes apples, pears, quinces, medlars, loquats, almonds, peaches, apricots, plums, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, sloes, and roses among the crop plants belonging to the family.

Many genera are also highly valued ornamental shrubs; these include Cotoneaster, Crataegus, Kerria, Photinia, Potentilla, Prunus, Pyracantha, Rhodotypos, Rosa, Sorbus, Spiraea, and others.[3]

However, several genera are also introduced noxious weeds in some parts of the world, costing money to be controlled. These invasive plants can have negative impacts on the diversity of local ecosystems once established. Such naturalised pests include Acaena, Cotoneaster, Crataegus, Pyracantha, and Rosa.[3]


  1. ^ a b c Stevens, P. F. (2001 onwards). Angiosperm Phylogeny Website Version 9, June 2008 http://www.mobot.org/mobot/research/apweb/welcome.html
  2. ^ Bortiri, E.; Oh, S.-H.; Jiang, J.; Baggett, S.; Granger, A.; Weeks, C.; Buckingham, M.; Potter, D.; Parfitt, D.E. (2001). "Phylogeny and Systematics of Prunus (Rosaceae) as Determined by Sequence Analysis of ITS and the Chloroplast trnL-trnF Spacer DNA". Systematic Botany 26 (4): 797–807. doi:10.2307/3093861. 
  3. ^ a b c d Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. (1992 onwards). The families of flowering plants: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. Version: 21 March 2010. http://delta-intkey.com/angio/www/rosaceae.htm
  4. ^ Lawrence, G.H.M. 1960. Taxonomy of Vascular Plants. Macmillan.
  5. ^ Caratini, Roger. La Vie de plantes. 1971. Encyclopédie Bordas.
  6. ^ a b c d Potter, D., et al. (2007). Phylogeny and classification of Rosaceae. Plant Systematics and Evolution. 266(1–2): 5–43.
  7. ^ Evans, Rodger. 1999. Rosaceae Phylogeny. Dickinson Lab (http://labs.eeb.utoronto.ca/dickinson/rosaceaeevolution/Rodger.html)[full citation needed]
  8. ^ Watson, L. (1998). FloraBase The Western Australian Flora - Rosaceae. http://florabase.calm.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/22834
  9. ^ Beentje, H. (2010). The Kew plant glossary, an illustrated dictionary of plant terms. Kew, London, U.K.: Kew publishing. ISBN 9781842464229. 
  10. ^ Folta, edited by Kevin M. (2008). Genetics and genomics of rosaceae (1. Ed. ed.). New York: Springer. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-387-77490-9. 
  11. ^ TOXNET: CASRN: 29883-15-6
  12. ^ B.C. Bennett (undated). Economic Botany: Twenty-Five Economically Important Plant Families. Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS) e-book
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