A large cosmopolitan dicotyledonous family containing about 3400 species in some 122 genera. It includes both woody and herbaceous plants. The leaves are usually alternate and, except in Spiraea and some other members of the subfamily Spiraeoideae, have two stipules at the base. The flowers are usually actinomorphic and often large and showy. There are numerous stamens arranged in whorls and the carpels are also usually numerous and free. An epicalyx is often present. Many different types of fruit are formed, the pome being characteristic of the subfamily Maloideae, e.g. Malus (apples), Pyrus (pears), and Cydonia (quinces), and a drupe characteristic of the subfamily Prunoideae, e.g. Prunus (plums, cherries, apricots).
The family contains most of the important orchard fruits, many bush fruits, e.g. blackberries and raspberries (Rubus), and other soft fruits, e.g. strawberries (Fragaria). It also includes many important ornamental genera, notably Rosa, of which there are estimated to be over 5000 cultivars. Other ornamentals include Cotoneaster, Kerria, Potentilla, and Spiraea.