Rosaceae
The Rose Family
 
 
    The rose family includes more than 100 genera with about 2,000 species of plants.  Many plants of this family have showy flowers and tasty fruits, such as apples, pears, quinces, cherries, plums, peaches, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.  The only tree of this family that produces timber is the black cherry.
 
 

 Click on the links below for introductions to some of the trees of this family:
 
hawthorn
Carolina laurelcherry
black cherry
flatwoods plum
blackberry
 
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Crataegus sp.
hawthorn
 
 

Habit

    The hawthorns comprise one of the most easily recognized groups of woody plants.  However, because of the botanical similarity exhibited among the individual species of this genera, specific identification is often perplexing.  Botanists who have spent years studying this group still lack accord with respect to the botanical limits of certain species.  This genus has been estimated to include from 100 to 1,200 species!  Of the 100 or more in the south, about 70 attain the size of small trees.
 

Leaves

    Leaves are simple, alternate, and deciduous.  The leaves are small, with toothed or lobed margins.  Petioles are short or long and may have wings.
 

Flowers
 
    The flowers are perfect, with showy white petals, and are in few- to many-flowered clusters.
 

Fruit
 
    Fruit is a small, scarlet, orange, or rarely a blue pome, with 2-5 large, bony nutlets.
 

Twigs

    The twigs are characterized by small winter buds, with reddish, often fleshy bud scales.  The twigs are profusely armed with thorns, 1/2-6 inches in length.
 

Bark

    The bark is usually thin and varies in color and texture.
 

Habitat

    The hawthorns grown on a variety of sites.  Some grow in pastures, meadows, and fields.  Others margin forests of either pine or hardwoods.  Some may be found under dense forest canopies.  A number of the hawthorns are widespread throughout the eastern United States, while others are greatly restricted geographically.  It has been recorded that a very small number, about a dozen or so, of specimens of certain species have ever been observed.
 

Use

    The lustrous foliage, colorful fruits, and showy blossoms of many hawthorns make these plants prized ornamentals.
 
 

Click on the links below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
 More
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 

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Prunus caroliniana
Carolina laurelcherry, wild orange
 
 

Habit

    The Carolina laurelcherry is a small tree, 30-40 feet in height, 8-10 inches in diameter.  It branches horizontally to form an oblong, narrow, open crown.
 

Leaves

    Leaves are simple, alternate, and persistent.  The leaves are 2-5 inches long, 1-2 inches wide, elliptical in shape, with an acute apex having a small distinct point.  Leaf bases are wedge-shaped.  Leaf margins are entire or remotely serrate, and somewhat wavy.  Leaf surfaces are lustrous dark green above, paler below.  Petioles are short, stout, and orange.
 

Flowers
 
    The flowers are perfect, on short stalks.
 

Fruit
 
    Fruit is a lustrous, dry, black or blue-black, oblong drupe, 1/2 inch in diameter.  The pit is ovoid, acute, with a rounded base and a prominent dorsal groove.
 

Twigs

    The twigs are slender, glabrous, red to gray-brown.  The pith is homogeneous.
 

Bark

    The bark is thin, smooth, gray, becoming irregularly roughened.
 

Habitat

    The Carolina laurelcherry grows on rich moist soils.  It is found from North Carolina to Florida; west to Louisiana and Texas.
 

Use

    This tree is cultivated as an ornamental.  Caution: The leaves and branches of this tree contain significant amounts of prussic acid and may be fatal to livestock if browsed in quantity.
 
 

Click on the links below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 

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Prunus serotina
black cherry
 
 

Habit

    The black cherry is a medium-sized tree, 50-60 feet in height, 2-3 feet in diameter.  It has small, somewhat horizontal branches and a narrow, oblong crown.  The root system is widespreading.
 

Leaves

    Leaves are simple, alternate, and deciduous.  The leaves are 2-6 inches long, 1-2 inches wide, oval to elliptical in shape, with an abruptly sharp pointed or tapered apex.  Leaf bases are acute to wedge-shaped.  Leaf margins are finely serrate.  Leaf surfaces are lustrous dark green above, paler below with a rusty-red pubescent midrib.  Petioles are slender, up to 1 inch long, grooved, and sometimes twisted.
 

Flowers
 
    The flowers are perfect, in many-flowered clusters.
 

Fruit
 
    Fruit is a lustrous, black or purplish-black, edible drupe, with juicy, purplish flesh, 1/2 inch in diameter.  The pit is 1/3 inch long with a prominent ridge.
 

Twigs

    The twigs are slender, rigid, aromatic, at first coated with a waxy layer, becoming red-brown and glabrous.  The pith is homogeneous.
 

Bark

    The bark is thin, smooth, red-brown or black, becoming furrowed and forming persistent curved scales.
 

Habitat

    The black cherry is most common on deep, rich, moist soils in mixed stands with oaks, ashes, hickories, and yellowpoplar.  It is less common on sandy soils.  It grows with conifers in the Adirondacks of Upstate New York.  It is found from Nova Scotia south to central Florida and west to Texas; also through southern Canada to Lake Superior and into North Dakota.  It is shrubby at the northern limits of its range.
 

Use

    This tree is an commercially important hardwood used in the production of furniture, boats, printing blocks, and planing-mill products.  The fruit is edible and is sometimes used in flavoring brandy.
 
 

Click on the links below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
More
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 

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Prunus umbellata
flatwoods plum
 
 

Habit

    The flatwoods plum is a shrub or small tree, usually occurring singly and not thicket-forming.
 

Leaves

    Leaves are simple, alternate, and deciduous.  The leaves are 1-2 inches long, 1/4-1 inch wide, oval- or elliptical-shaped , with a notched or acute apex.  Leaf bases are acute to wedge-shaped.  Leaf margins are finely serrate.  Leaf surfaces are dark green and glabrous or sparsely pubescent above, paler below with pubescent midrib and veins.  Petioles are slender and short.
 

Flowers
 
    The flowers are perfect, in many-flowered clusters.
 

Fruit
 
    Fruit is a red or yellow drupe, becoming dark purplish or greenish-purple, 1/2 inch in diameter.  The flesh is bitter to the taste.
 

Twigs

    The twigs are slender, sometimes with thorn tips.  The pith is homogeneous.
 

Bark

    The bark is thin, smooth, red-brown or black, becoming roughened.
 

Habitat

    The black cherry is most common in open pine forests, mixed pine hardwood forests, hammocks, and coastal scrub.  It is found on the southern coastal plains from North Carolina to Florida; west to eastern Texas; north along the Mississippi Valley to southern Arkansas.
 

Use

    The fruits are rich in pectin and are used in jellies and preserves.
 
 

Click on the links below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 

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Rubus sp.
blackberry, dewberry
 
 

Habit

    Plants of the Rubus genus are perennial shrubs bearing bristles, bristles and prickles, or prickles.  
 

Leaves

    Leaves are mostly compound with slender petioles.  Leaflets are oval to narrow and elliptical in shape, variable in size, finely to coarsely serrate, and may be irregularly lobed.
 

Flowers
 
    The flowers are perfect, and are generally white and showy.
 

Fruit
 
    Fruits are aggregates of berries that are usually juicy and flavorful. 
 

Habitat

    These shrubs grow on both well-drained and wet places, abundantly colonizing old fields, burned over places where the soil has been mechanically disturbed.  They are found throughout the eastern United States.
 

Use

    The fruits are used in preserves, pies, jams, etc.
 
 

Click on the links below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 

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