Families of Vascular Plants - EEB337H

Rosales - Rosaceae

How many subfamilies?

The Rosaceae have traditionally been divided into four subfamilies according to the type of fruit they produce, as tabulated below. Alternatively, they are sometimes put into a larger number of smaller, more homogeneous tribes. Results of recent studies of Rosaceae phylogeny challenge the traditional classification. These and other studies have also begun to shed light on the origin of subfamily Maloideae. Other characters by which the subfamilies may be distinguished are tabulated below; see also the key to subfamilial groups in the Rosaceae on p. 297 of Judd et al. 1999.

These recent studies suggest instead that both the Maloideae and the members of the Prunoideae are nested within the Spiraeoideae. Conversely, a small group associated with the genus Dryas is broken out of the Spiraeoideae as subfamily Dryadoideae. This 3-family taxonomy is described HERE.
Rosoideae perigynous G1-many, ovules 1-2 achene, drupelet herbs, shrubs


Prunoideae1 perigynous G1 (-5), ovules 2 drupe shrubs, trees


Spiraeoideae perigynous G2-many, ovules 2 or more follicle (or capsule) shrubs


Maloideae epigynous G(1-5), ovules 1-2(to many) "pome," i.e. berry or (1-5 pyrenous) drupe shrubs, trees


1. Prunoideae are also known as Amygdaloideae (as in Judd et al. 1999, pp. 292-298); usage here follows Mabberley 1997.


Robertson, K. R. 1974. The genera of Rosaceae in the southeastern United States. Journal of the Arnold Arboretum 55.

Spjut, R. W. 1994. A systematic treatment of fruit types. Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden, 70: 1-182.



The Families of Flowering Plants
DELTA database in natural language

L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


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