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Rosaceae

Rosaceae is a medium-sized family (the rose 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), and Rubus (250), [1] but the largest genus by far is Prunus (plums, cherries, peaches, apricots, and almonds) with about 430 species. However, all of these numbers should be seen as underestimates - much taxonomic work remains.

The Rosaceae can be herbs, shrubs, or trees. Most species are deciduous, but some are evergreen.[2] 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), and almonds, and ornamental trees and shrubs (such as roses, meadowsweets, photinias, firethorns, rowans, and hawthorns).[2]

Distribution[edit]

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]

Taxonomy[edit]

The family was traditionally divided into four subfamilies: Rosoideae, Spiraeoideae, Maloideae, and Amygdaloideae, primarily diagnosed by the structure of the fruits. More recent work has identified that not all of these groups were monophyletic. A more modern model comprises three subfamilies, one of which (Rosoideae) has largely remained the same. A cladogram of the family[3] is:


 Rosoideae 

Filipendula


 Rosodae nom. illeg.;

Sanguisorbeae



Potentilleae



Colurieae






Dryadoideae


 Amygdaloideae 

Lyonothamnus



Amygdaleae
(previously Amygdaloideae sensu stricto)



Sorbarieae



Spiraeeae


 Kerriodae nom. illeg.

Kerrieae



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



 Pyrodae nom. illeg.

Gillenia


 Maleae
(previously Maloideae sensu lato)

Kageneckia



Vauquelinia



Lindleya



Malinae
(previously Maloideae (or Pomoideae) sensu stricto)







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.

Characteristics[edit]

Rosaceae can be trees, shrubs, or herbaceous plants. The herbs are mostly perennials, but some annuals also exist.[4]

Leaves[edit]

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).[3] The stipules are sometimes adnate 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[edit]

Flowers of plants in the rose family are generally described as "showy".[5] 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.

Genera[edit]

Identified clades include:

Economic importance[edit]

The rose family is probably one of the six most economically important crop plant families,[6] 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.[2]

On the other hand, 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.[2]

References[edit]

  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. ^ a b c d Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. (1992 onwards). The families of flowering plants: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. Version: 21st March 2010. http://delta-intkey.com/angio/www/rosaceae.htm
  3. ^ a b c Potter, D., et al. (2007). Phylogeny and classification of Rosaceae. Plant Systematics and Evolution. 266(1–2): 5–43.
  4. ^ Watson, L. (1998). FloraBase The Western Australian Flora - Rosaceae. http://florabase.calm.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/22834
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ B.C. Bennett (undated). Economic Botany: Twenty-Five Economically Important Plant Families. Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS) e-book

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