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



Rubus spectabilis:

Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Flowers: Red/purple, 5 papery petals on 5 joined sepals.

Blooms: March - May

Leaves: 3 leaflets, bright green, heavily creased and toothed.

Fruit/Seeds: Multicolored berry that separates easily from receptacle when ripe.

Location: Wetter canyon areas.

Status: Native - Uncommon.

Rubus spectabilis
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Further description & Comment: Woody shrub, 1 to 5 feet tall. Sometimes, just a gnarled trunk with a few sprouts of new growth sticking out.

Salmonberry is uncommon to come across, but the large, bright wine-red flowers makes it quite noticeable when in bloom. It's immensely satisfying to trek off the trail to something of this color and discover it's not a coke can!

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Rubus ursinus:
California Blackberry

Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Flowers: White, 5 petals, 1 - 2 inches across, singular or in small groups along stems.

Blooms: February - June.

Leaves: Three leaflets per leaf, prickly.

Fruit/Seeds: Red berries ripening to black. Jul-Aug.

Location: All trails, common lower to mid elevations, along bluffs and beaches, disturbed areas.

Status: Native - Common.

Rubus ursinus
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Further description & Comment: Sprawling and mounding vine, often climbing throughout other vegetation. Prickly stems. Deciduous.

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The three leaflet arrangement is often mistaken for Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) - and probably better safe than sorry. The image above right shows Blackberry flowers poking out past Poison Oak leaves. Poison Oak does not have thorns on stems or prickles on leaves, or the large white flowers, but often the two plants grow intertwined with each other, and often Blackberry leaves have a similar reddish coloring to Poison Oak's, so look carefully before you start collecting supplies for making jam.

The dried leaves, flowers and berries make an excellent herbal tea. To the left, a catepillar munches on blackberry leaves.


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