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



Potentilla hickmanii :
Hickman's Cinquefoil

Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Flowers: Yellow, five petals 6-10mm long, each slightly lobed, equal size and spacing. Backed by star-like sepals.

Blooms: April - June.

Leaves: Basal leaves, usually with at least 9 deeply bi- or tri-lobed leaflets.

Fruit/Seeds: ??

Location: It's a secret.

Status: Native - Rare & Endangered.

Potentilla hickmanii
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Photograph by Mike Vasey

A side view of P. hickmanii.
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Photograph by Mike Vasey

Further description & Comment: P. hickmanii was discovered in the path of the once-planned Devil's Slide Bypass Freeway, a monstrous road project that would have destroyed many unique environments and habitats on Montara Mountain. Thankfully, this plan has been abandoned in favor of a tunnel at Devil's Slide after the overwhelming passage of Measure T in November of 1996.

 An unspecified place on Montara Mountain where Potentilla hickmanii. might be found. Or not.
Photograph by Mike Vasey

A closeup of the distinctive lobed leaves.

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Rubus parviflorus:

Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Flowers: White, 5 petals, "floppy-looking", one to two inches across, with yellowish center. Usually only a few flowers per plant.

Blooms: March - May.

Leaves: Soft, fuzzy, maple-like, 5 inches across usually with 5 distinct lobes.

Fruit/Seeds: Dull red, soft domed berries in June - July.

Location: All trails - common. Tending towards wetter areas.

Status: Native - Common.

Rubus parviflorus
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Photo by Bill and Barbara VanderWerf - 600x450 JPEG - 40K

Further description & Comment: 2 - 6 ft tall; erect and softly haired stems (not prickly), in dense thickets. Deciduous.

Thimbleberry often catches your attention with a single, large, white eye of a flower staring at you from a thicket.

Below left, the berries start off as light pink and ripen to a deep red; below right, one story on why they're called "thimble" berries: the ripe fruit pulls off like a thimble.

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