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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), achenes sometimes included in hypanthium or seated on a receptacle. Variable from simple, single-seeded drupes to aggregate fruits or several-seeded pomes.

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 90 genera, c. 4828 species, cosmopolitan, especially northern temperate regions. Australia: c. 23 genera, 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), e.g. 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, May 2017
Taxon concept: Australian Plant Census (accessed March 2017)

 Key to the genera 
1Carpel usually solitary, free of hypanthium; ovules 2 per carpel but 1 aborts; fruit a 1-seeded drupe; usually deciduous shrubs or treesPrunus
Carpels usually more than 1, included in hypanthium or on an elongated receptacle; ovules 1–several per carpel; fruit various, if a drupe then small and forming an aggregate fruit; herbs, shrubs or trees2
2Flowers perigynous; carpels numerous (rarely 1 or 2) and free, on an elongated receptacle or included in hypanthium, 1 ovule per carpel; fruit 1-seeded, either drupelets forming an aggregate fruit or achenes included/enclosed in hypanthium or seated on fleshy receptacle; stipules present; herbs, or shrubs or climbers with prickly cane-like stems3
Flowers perigynous or epigynous; carpels usually 2–5 (range 1–12), either each carpel with 2 or more ovules or carpels united to inner wall of hypanthium; fruit usually with more than 1 seed, either a cluster of separate follicles (or achenes) or a pome with the carpels enclosed in and fused to an enlarged fleshy receptacle; stipules present or absent; shrubs or trees
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3Shrubs or climbers, mostly producing herbaceous canes (rarely more woody), aerial branches biennial or perennial4
Herbs, aerial branches annual, or if longer-lived then not emerging more than c. 10 cm from the ground
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4Leaves simple, toothed or shallowly lobed, not dissected.(part)Rubus
Leaves compound or deeply dissected
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5Stems prostrate, lax, barely woody; leaves pinnate, small. (part)Acaena
Stems erect, or if semiprostrate then long and rather woody
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6Leaves 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)
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7Plants 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
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8Plants 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
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9Leaves 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
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10Flowers solitary, or inflorescence branched and flowers markedly pedicellate11
Flowers in spikes, spike-like racemes or heads, flowers sessile or almost so
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11Achenes 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
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12Leaflets less than 20 mm long or if longer then cordate at base, elliptic to almost circular; petals absent; fruiting hypanthium completely enclosing achenes13
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
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13Fruiting 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
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14Fruit a cluster of dehiscent follicles; trees, shrubs, subshrubs or herbs; stipules lacking or very small or falling early, if prominent the leaves pinnate or incisely lobed15
Fruit an indehiscent pome; woody shrubs or small trees; leaves stipulate, though stipules often small or shed early
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15Plants herbaceous; leaves 2- or 3-ternateAruncus
Plants woody, or sometimes more or less herbaceous; leaves simple
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16Carpels bony in fruit, separable into pyrenes17
Carpels membranous to leathery in fruit, not separable
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17Leaves simple, entire; branchlets never spiny; fruit 4–8 mm diam., seeds 2–5Cotoneaster
Leaves toothed (at least obscurely so) or lobed; branchlets usually spiny; fruit 4–15 mm diam., seeds 1–5
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18Leaves evergreen, shallowly or obscurely toothed or crenate, petiole 0–8 mm; flowers less than 8 mm diam.; carpels with 2 ovules; fruit less than 10 mm diam., seeds 5Pyracantha
Leaves deciduous or semideciduous, closely toothed to deeply and incisely lobed, petiole more than 10 mm long; flowers usually more than 10 mm diam.; carpels each with 1 ovule and 1 ovulode; fruit more than 10 mm diam., seeds 1–5
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19Leaves evergreen, simple, entire, shallowly toothed to regularly and sharply toothed20
Leaves deciduous, compound or simple and finely toothed or pinnately lobed
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20Leaves >7.5 cm long and densely brownish woolly-tomentose on lower surface; inflorescences densely velvety-tomentose; fruit >15 mm diam.Eriobotrya
Leaves 3–17 cm long and glabrous, or almost so; inflorescences glabrous or almost so; fruit 5–10 mm diam.
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21Leaves 3–8 cm long; fruit 5–10 mm diam., bluishRhaphiolepis
Leaves 9–17 cm long; fruit 5–6 mm diam., red
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22Inflorescences umbellate or raceme-like; fruit more than 50 mm diam.Malus
Inflorescences branched, sometimes small and umbel-like; fruit c. 20 mm diam.
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