The rose is a rose . . . .




pronounced: roe-ZAY-see-eye

the rose family


The word rose comes from the Latin rosa, adapted from the Greek 'ροδον (rhodon), which in turn was adapted from earlier Aramaic and Hebrew words for the plant. Surely there is nobody who does not recognize a rose when he or she sees it. A major reorganization of the family in the early 1900s resulted in the incorporation of the former Spirea, Plum, and Apple families into the Rose family, which prompted the American poet Robert Frost (1874 – 1963) to write:

                        The rose is a rose,
                        And was always a rose.
                        But the theory now goes
                        That the apple's a rose,
                        And the pear is, and so's
                        The plum, I suppose.
                         The dear only knows
                        What will next prove a rose.
                        You, of course, are a rose -
                        But were always a rose.

Rosaceae can be trees, shrubs, or herbaceous plants, the last mostly perennial. The leaves are usually spirally arranged, but sometimes opposite, and the margins most often serrate. Paired stipules are generally present, and they are sometimes adnate to the petiole. Glands or extrafloral nectaries may be present on leaf margins or petioles. Spines may be present. Flowers are radially symmetrical and almost always bisexual, generally with 5 each of sepals and petals, and many spirally arranged stamens. The bases of the sepals, petals and stamens are fused together to form a cuplike structure known as an hypanthium. The flowers are nearly always in racemes, spikes or heads. The fruits can be of almost any type.


Photograaph © Donald Simpson, taken in Nelly Bay 2014