Rosaceae (Rose Family)

The large and diverse Rosaceae is diffcult to define precisely - particularly variable are the pistil and fruiting arrangement - so this will limit itself to the characteristics of the wild varieties found in the area. The features of the common local genera can be easily identified: Rubus (blackberries and raspberries), Fragaria (strawberries), Rosa (roses), and Potentilla (cinquefoils). With a few additions, most of the wild members of Rosaceae fall into one of these families.

The leaves on these plant are alternate, although the leaflets are usually opposite. The leaves often have stipules (paired appendages at the base, sometimes as large as regular leaves). The calyx has 5 lobes, and there are either 5 petals or none, at least 15 stamens, and one-to-many pistils. The one-seeded fruit may be dry or fleshy, separate or bunched (as in blackberries).

Rosaceae is a strong component of the mountains native habitats, and one will often find areas populated by almost nothing but members of this family - groupings of cream bush, toyon, cinquefoil, horkelia, blackberry, thimbleberry and strawberries are quite common.

The many members of Rosaceae on Montara Mountain include:

Cotoneaster sp.

Fragaria chiloensis
Beach Strawberry

Fragaria vesca
Wood Strawberry

Heteromeles arbutifolia
Toyon Bush

Holodiscus discolor
Cream Bush

Horkelia californica
California Horkelia

Oemleria cerasiformis
Oso Berry

Potentilla anserina
ssp. pacifica
Pacific Cinquefoil

Potentilla glandulosa
Sticky Cinquefoil

Potentilla hickmanii
Hickman's Cinquefoil

Rosa gymnocarpa
Wild Rose

Rubus parviflorus

Rubus spectabilis

Rubus ursinus
California Blackberry



Heteromeles arbutifolia:
Toyon Bush

Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Flowers: White and small, in dense upright clusters.

Blooms: June - September

Leaves: Dark green, leathery, coarsely toothed, 3 - 6 inches long,

Fruit/Seeds: Small bright red berries, in clusters. November - January.

Location: Nearly all trails. Easily found on Hazelnut Trail in San Pedro Valley County Park.

Status: Native - Common

Heteromeles arbutifolia
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Further description & Comment: Evergreen, many branches, from 8 - 20 ft tall. Sometimes referred to as a Christmas Bush because its bright red berries ripen at around Christmas. We can get pagan about it and call it a Solstice Bush, as it is in bloom on the Summer Solstice and has berries at the Winter Solstice. Cotoneaster, because of it's similar size and red berries, is often mistaken for Toyon.

Another view of the berry clusters. Note the way the leaves fan out around the fruit clusters.

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25 feet of Toyon hiding in the Eucalyptus. Without the berries, you wouldn't know it was there.

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Holodiscus discolor:
Cream Bush - Ocean Spray

Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Flowers: Creamy white, sometimes blushing salmon/pink; tiny, 5 petals, fragrant; in dense showy clusters at tips of branches.

Blooms: April - August

Leaves: Alternate; triangular, toothed except near base; 1 to 3 inches long.

Fruit/Seeds: ??

Location: All trails and areas.

Status: Native - Common

Holodiscus discolor
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Further description & Comment: 2 to 15 feet tall; upright branches with shedding bark; new growth tender and reddish-brown. Deciduous.

The names Cream Bush and Ocean Spray are obvious when seeing the flowers on this striking plant. Even when not in bloom, it's dark, deeply etched vibrant green leaves and red shoots make it a joy to come upon. A popular species for coastside native gardens.

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Horkelia californica:
California Horkelia

Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Flowers: White, 5 thin petals, small; many stamens in bright yellow center; in loose clusters at top of stem.

Blooms: June - September.

Leaves: Pinnate, with 11-21 strongly toothed leaflets.

Fruit/Seeds: ??

Location: All areas of the mountain - very common.

Status: Native - Common

Horkelia californica
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Further description & Comment: 1 to 2 feet tall; stems not sticky. Horkelia resembles Potentilla glandulosa - (Sticky Cinquefoil) enough to confuse and frustrate, especially when the plants are not flowering. The stickiness of the plant stems is the most reliable way to tell them apart. In general, Horkelia has more lobes on the leaflets, thinner petals, and blooms later into the summer.


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