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Family Rosaceae

Synonyms: Amygdalaceae APNI*
Malaceae APNI*

Description: Trees, shrubs, herbs or climbers (canes herbaceous, rarely woody); deciduous or evergreen; stems with or without thorns or prickles.

Leaves usually alternate, simple or compound, often pinnate with a terminal leaflet, sometimes palmate or pedate, margins entire, toothed or lobed; stipules usually present and commonly fused to petiole.

Inflorescence terminal, racemose or cymose or flowers solitary in leaf axils. Flowers actinomorphic, usually bisexual. Hypanthium shallow to urn- or cup-shaped with floral parts perigynous, or deeply concave and fused to carpels with floral parts epigynous. Epicalyx with 4 or 5 sepal-like bracts often present. Sepals (4 or) 5. Petals usually 5, sometimes absent or 'doubled'. Stamens 1–numerous, anthers dehiscing by longitudinal slits. Carpels 1–numerous, free or variously fused to each other and to the hypanthium.

Fruits (individual fruit achenes) or fruitlets (drupelets) consist of ripe indehiscent carpels, dry or succulent, often aggregated (forming an aggregate fruit with achenes included in hypanthium or on receptacle or drupelets on a fleshy receptacle).

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 90 genera, c. 4828 species, cosmopolitan, especially northern temperate regions. Australia: c. 23 genera, number of species to be determined (number of species native to be determined), all States.

External links:
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Rosaceae, Order: Rosales)

A number of taxa are cultivated for their fruits (including economically important crops for human consumption), including Malus (apples), Prunus (plums, peaches, almonds, cherries), Rubus (blackberries, raspberries), Fragaria (strawberries), Eriobotrya (loquat); many are favourite ornamental and hedge garden plants, including roses, firethorns, hawthorns, photinias, cotoneasters; and a number are troublesome weeds, especially in farming regions. In Rosaceae the gynoecium type and fruit type is variable, providing the basis for recognising several subfamilies. The previously recognised segregate families of Rosaceae s. lat. were distinguished as follows. Family Rosaceae s. str. (subfamily Rosoideae) – carpels numerous and free, or rarely 1 or 2, 1 ovule per carpel; carpels on an elongated receptacle or sometimes included in hypanthium; fruit 1-seeded, indehiscent, usually drupes or achenes, often seated on fleshy receptacle or enclosed in hypanthium; stipules present. Family Malaceae (subfamilies Spiraeoideae and Pomoideae (= Maloideae)) – carpels usually 2–5 (range 1–12) and either carpels each with 2 or more ovules, or carpels united to inner wall of hypanthium; fruit of separate follicles or achenes or a pome; stipules present or absent. Family Amygdalaceae (subfamily Prunoideae) – carpel usually solitary, ovules 2, but 1 aborts, free of hypanthium; fruit a drupe; stipules absent.

Text by (revised) P.G. Kodela, March 2017
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Aruncus,    Cotoneaster,    Crataegus,    Eriobotrya,    Malus,    Photinia,    Prunus,    Pyracantha,    Rhaphiolepis,    Sorbus,    Spiraea

 Key to the genera 
1Shrubs or climbers, mostly producing herbaceous canes (rarely more woody), aerial branches biennial or perennial2
Herbs, aerial branches annual, or if longer-lived then not emerging more than c. 10 cm from the ground5
2Leaves simple, toothed or shallowly lobed, not dissected.(part)Rubus
Leaves compound or deeply dissected
                       Back to 1
3Stems prostrate, lax, barely woody; leaves pinnate, small. (part)Acaena
Stems erect, or if semiprostrate then long and rather woody
                       Back to 2
4Leaves always pinnate; stipules wide, fused to petiole for most of their length; prickles, if present, demarcated from stem by line around base, detachable with age; flowers with urn-shaped hypanthium, becoming fleshy and coloured in fruit, enclosing a number of bony achenesRosa
Leaves pinnate, palmate or pedate; stipules narrow, free from petiole except at base; prickles not noticeably demarcated from stem; flowers with an elongated receptacle, covered with succulent, rarely dryish, drupelets.(major part)
                       Back to 3
5Plants spreading by stolons; leaves 3-foliolate; fruiting receptacle enlarged, scarlet with minute achenes scattered over its surfaceDuchesnea
Plants tufted or arising from underground rhizomes, or annual, or if spreading by stolons then leaves with more than 3 leaflets; receptacle not enlarged and coloured in fruit
                       Back to 1
6Plants annual; leaves less than 20 mm long; flowers in small sessile clusters enclosed by wide, fused stipulesAphanes
Plants perennial; leaves more than 20 mm long
                       Back to 5
7Leaves palmately and regularly 5–9-lobed (sometimes right to base), basal leaves with long bare petioles; inflorescence lax, much-branched, hardly longer than basal leaves, bearing numerous minute greenish yellow flowers lacking petalsAlchemilla
Leaves pinnately or palmately compound; flowering stems much exceeding basal leaves, or if not then flowers relatively few and not minute
                       Back to 6
8Flowers solitary, or inflorescence branched and flowers markedly pedicellate9
Flowers in spikes, spike-like racemes or heads, flowers sessile or almost so
                       Back to 7
9Achenes long and slender with hooked or curled ends, numerous, crowded on a globose receptacle, developing rapidly and conspicuously as flower ages; flowers sparse on erect but few-branched inflorescence; epicalyx bracts much narrower than sepals; leaves pinnateGeum
Achenes small, bony, subglobose (often slightly flattened), crowded on convex receptacle, partly concealed by persistent calyx; inflorescence cymose or flowers solitary in leaf axils, pedunculate; epicalyx bracts mimicking sepals; leaves pinnate or palmate
                       Back to 8
10Leaflets less than 20 mm long or if longer then cordate at base, elliptic to almost circular; petals absent; fruiting hypanthium completely enclosing achenes11
Leaflets more than 30 mm long, narrowed at base, coarsely hairy; petals present, yellow; hypanthium tubular, loosely enclosing achene, its margin fringed with a row of hooked spines
                       Back to 8
11Fruiting hypanthium armed with slender, usually barbed spines; leaflets sessile or almost so.(major part)Acaena
Fruiting hypanthium unarmed, 4-angled or 4-winged; petiolules of upper leaflets mostly 2 mm or more long
                       Back to 10

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