The Rose Family includes more than 3,000 species of trees, shrubs, and herbs distributed throughout much of the world. The flowers characteristically have the basal parts fused into a cup, with petals, sepals, and numerous stamens attached to the cup's rim (Fig. 24.8). The family is divided into subfamilies on the basis of flower structure and fruits. The flowers of one group have inferior ovaries and produce pomes for
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fruits. Flowers of other groups have ovaries that are superior or partly inferior and produce follicles, achenes, drupes, or clusters of drupelets.
The economic impact of members of the Rose Family is enormous, with large tonnages of stone fruits (e.g., cherries, apricots, peaches, plums), pome fruits (e.g., apples, pears), and aggregate fruits (e.g., strawberries, blackberries, loganberries, raspberries) being grown annually in temperate regions of the world (Fig. 24.9).
Members of this family have been relevant to humans in many other ways in the past and still continue to be so. Roses themselves, for example, have for centuries been favorite garden ornamentals of countless numbers of gardeners, and the elegant fragrance of some roses delights many. In Bulgaria and neighboring countries, a major perfume industry has grown up around the production from damask roses of a perfume oil known as attar (or otto) of roses. In a valley near Sofia, more than 200,000 persons are involved in the industry, whose product brought more than $3,000 per kilogram ($1,360 per pound) during the 1990s. A considerable quantity of the oil is blended with less expensive substances in the perfume industry. Perfume workers are rarely reported to develop respiratory disorders, suggesting that the plant extracts may have medicinal properties.
The fruits of wild roses, called hips (Fig. 24.10), are exceptionally rich in vitamin C. In fact, they may contain as much as 60 times the vitamin C of a comparable quantity of citrus fruit. Native Americans from coast to coast included rose hips in their diet (except for members of a British Columbia tribe, who believed they gave one an "itchy seat"), and it is believed that this practice contributed to scurvy being unknown among Native Americans. During World War II when food supplies became scarce in some European countries, children in particular were kept healthy on diets that included wild rose hips. In addition to vitamin C, the hips
contain significant amounts of iron, calcium, and phosphorus. Today many Europeans eat Nyppon Sopa, a sweet, thick puree of rose hips, whenever they have a cold or influenza.
After giving birth, the women of one western Native American tribe drank western black chokecherry juice to staunch the bleeding. Other tribes frequently made a tea from blackberry roots to control diarrhea. Five hundred Oneida Indians once cured themselves of dysentery with blackberry root tea, while many nearby white settlers, who refused to use "Indian cures," died from the disease. Men of certain tribes used older canes of roses for arrow shafts (presumably after removing the prickles!). Wild blackberries, raspberries, salmonberries, thimbleberries, dewberries, juneberries, and strawberries all provided food for Native Americans and early settlers, and they are still eaten today, either fresh or in pies, jams, and jellies. A spiced blackberry cordial is still a favorite for "summer complaints" in southern Louisiana. Wild strawberries are considered by many to be distinctly superior in flavor to cultivated varieties.
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Acai, Maqui And Many Other Popular Berries That Will Change Your Life And Health. Berries have been demonstrated to be some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Each month or so it seems fresh research is being brought out and new berries are being exposed and analyzed for their health giving attributes.