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



Cotoneaster sp.

Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Flowers: White to pink, 5 petals, small; in clusters along branches.

Blooms: June - September

Leaves: Soft green; woolly & gray on the underside, smooth margined; from 1 to 3 inches.

Fruit/Seeds: Red berries in clusters along branches, September - February.

Location: Most open areas at lower elevations and in many backyards.

Status: Alien - Invasive

Cotoneaster sp.
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Further description & Comment: Cotoneaster is an asian ornamental tree/shrub that escaped from the gardens, and can be found in the wild throughout the Bay Area. The various forms range from a low-growing shrub to a thirty foot tree. Birds eat the berries and in turn spread the seeds.

Pronounced ' Ca - tone - ee - aster '. When it's full of berries in the winter, it is often mistaken for Heteromeles arbutifolia - (Toyon Bush), and is seriously threatening Toyon's natural niche in the local habitats.



Fragaria chiloensis
Beach Strawberry

Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Flowers: White, 5 pointed petals, 1 - 1.5 inches across.

Blooms: March - August

Leaves: Shiny, dark green; with pronounced lateral vein; finely toothed; densely hairy on underside

Fruit/Seeds: Very small red strawberries; hard to see.

Location: Bluff trails

Status: Native - Common

Fragaria chiloensis
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Further description & Comment: Low growing; no spines or stickers; spreads by bright red runners.

The image to the left best illustrates the difference in the leaves of Fragaria chiloensis (Beach Strawberry) and Fragaria vesca (Wood Strawberry). Beach is the lower, dark green shiny one.

Beach Strawberry also has a larger flower and a smaller fruit.

Both species can be found growing together along Gray Whale Cove trail in McNee Ranch State Park.



Fragaria vesca
Wood Strawberry

Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Flowers: White, 5 rounded petals, .5 inches across.

Blooms: March - August

Leaves: Green, not shiny; with pronounced lateral and secondary veins; serrated edges; slightly hairy on underside.

Fruit/Seeds: Small, but noticable red strawberries.

Location: Bluff trails and inland open woods and meadows.

Status: Native - Common

Fragaria vesca
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Further description & Comment: Low growing vine; no spines or stickers; spreads by bright red runners. Wood strawberry has smaller flowers but larger fruit than Fragaria chiloensis (Beach Strawberry). Below left, a nice shot of a young whole plant section - this may be connected to dozens of other sections by runners that cover many square yards. Fragaria vesca. has a wider range (ocean bluffs, inland woods, meadows) than Fragaria chiloensis (Beach Strawberry).

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Above: An image to confuse.

Just when I thought I had this strawberry thing figured out, I came across the above tableau: The smaller flowers of Fragaria vesca joined by one, mutant six-petaled flower of Fragaria chiloensis (Beach Strawberry), mixed in with the old leaves of Douglas Iris and new leaves of Pacific Sanicle.

To the left, an almost ripe Wood Strawberry.

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