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Stonerose fossils


Rose family
Family Rosaceae

The Rose family today is a very large group of plants found worldwide that includes our lovely garden floribunda roses. Because fossil flowers are very rare, paleobotanists have to rely on leaves and occasionally fruits and seeds for identification.

hawthorn leaf
Leaf of a hawthorn type genus (Crataegus), which is in the rose family.
Photo by T.A. Dillhoff

fossil leaf
This fossil leaf is similar to genus Spiraea, another member of the Rosaceae family.
Photo by T.A. Dillhoff

Many fossil leaves attributed to of the Rose family (Rosaceae) are represented in the Republic fossil flora. These have been reported to include apple (Malus), raspberry, blackberry and salmonberry bushes (Rubus), and at least five types of plum and cherry trees (Prunus). Such assignments should be taken with a grain of salt, as it is very difficult to place fossil plants in modern genera based on leaves alone. This family is currently being studied and many of the fossils are turning out to be ancestral to modern families.


Ancestors to several of Washington's native trees and shrubs today lived in Republic 50 million years ago, and these include types similar to modern hawthorn (Crataegus), Saskatoon berry (Amelanchier), mountain ash (Sorbus), and hardhack shrub (Spiraea).

No fossil flowers from the rose family have been found—the Stonerose emblem is not actually a rose but instead is related to the the mallow family (Malvaceae).

hardhack shrub
This living relative, Spiraea douglasii, or hardhack shrub, is common in most counties of Washington.
Photo by Ben Legler ©2004