A rose by any other name…just might be a peach tree.
The rose family (Rosaceae) includes a surprising number of popular fruit trees. Apples and pears, known collectively as pomes, are in the rose family. So are the stone fruits, such as almonds and nectarines. Cane fruits, such as blackberries and raspberries are part of the rose family. So are strawberries.
So, how can all these different plants be related? Let’s find out.
Rose family characteristics
The rose family is large and diverse. It contains herbs and shrubs, along with all those trees. But they do share many common characteristics. Most of them are deciduous, deep-rooted, woody perennials. In general, leaves are arranged spirally, with a few exceptions, with serrated edges. You may see spines along the midrib and extrafloral nectaries are often present.
Flowers of the rose family are famous for being showy. If you look closely, you can see that the bases of the petals, sepals, and stamens are fused together into a cup-shaped structure called a hypanthium.
Fruits of the rose family come in several forms:
While most members of the rose family are edible, the seeds often contain amygdalin, which can release cyanide when chewed. [But you’d have to eat an awful lot to have any problems.] Like most families, there are some members of the rose family you wouldn’t want to invite to your garden.
Weedy rose family members
Not all members of the rose family are lovely, sweet, and delicious. Some can be a royal pain. Pale biddy-biddy (Acaena pallida) is a rose family member, native to the Southern Hemisphere, but now registered as a noxious weed elsewhere. Even our familiar thornless firethorns (Cotoneaster), hawthorns (Crataegus), thorny Pyracantha, and roses (Rosa) are technically invasive plants. Birds eat the seeds found in our landscapes, they then fly away and deposit those seeds where they will grow and displace native plants. This causes a domino effect of destruction for native birds, insects, and other living things. I’m not saying you shouldn’t grow these plants. I’m just saying there are consequences to the surrounding environment.
Growing rose family plants
Rose family members grow best in locations with loose soil, good drainage, and full sun. These plants have chilling requirements that must be fulfilled before fruit can be produced, so be sure to pick varieties and cultivars that match the chill hours expected in your yard.
Rose family pests and diseases
It would probably be easier to list the pests and diseases that do not affect members of the rose family. The same characteristics that make these plants appealing to us attract insect pests. Of course, it depends largely on which plants you’re growing. In most cases, aphids, borers, caterpillars, leaf miners, Fuller rose beetles, leafhoppers, mealybugs, root nematodes, sawflies, scale insects, spider mites, thrips, and whiteflies are common pests.
Rosaceae are susceptible to several fungal diseases, including black spot, gray mold, powdery mildew, rusts, stem canker, and Verticillium wilt. Bacterial blight and fireblight can also occur. Learn more about the specific plants you are growing to know how to protect them against these problems.
Speaking of growing, how many members of the rose family are in your garden? Tell us in the comments!
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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