WASHINGTON — It's that time of the year when chocolates and flowers are flying off the shelves to be handed out for Valentine's Day. Among the most popular flowers sold for Valentine's Day is the classic red rose. CNN reports that more than 250 million roses are produced for Valentine’s Day, according to estimates from the trade group Society of American Florists. And these roses are getting more expensive.
Personal finance website The Balance found that roses are 54% more expensive than last year's prices.
But, there is a sweeter and perhaps cheaper option to the famed flower...a distant cousin: the apple. Or even strawberries.
Apples (Malus Mill) and strawberries (Fragaria L.) are all a part of the rose family. Rosaceae, the official name of the rose family, consists of more than 2,000 plant species.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture database, peaches, cherries, pears, plums, almonds, apricot, blackberries, raspberries are also members of the rose family.
The Common Ground
While an apple or strawberry certainly doesn't look like a rose, members of this plant family share other structural traits. Rosaceae plants are typically woody plants, including shrubs and trees and are known as flowering plants or angiosperms. Some of the members are armed with thorns, spines, or prickles to discourage plant-eating animals.
An expert on Rosaceae, professor Daniel Potter at the University of California Davis Department of Plant Sciences, shared some other common characteristics of the plant family, in an article featured on Access Science.
"Members of Rosaceae share a distinctive floral feature—the presence of a hypanthium, a floral disk or cup formed from the fused bases of the sepals, petals, and stamens, which is sometimes fused to the ovary," Potter wrote.
"The hypanthium is not a unique feature of Rosaceae, but its presence in combination with other characteristics, such as the presence of numerous (15 or more) stamens in the flowers of most species and the presence of cyanogenic glycosides (defensive chemicals that release hydrogen cyanide when parts of the plant are crushed) in many, has facilitated the long-standing recognition of this family," Potter noted.
Pop-culture and Poetry
Turns out William Shakespeare had it right, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." In the case of the rose family, it may even taste sweeter.
At the Smithsonian Gardens in D.C., there is a panel in the Folger Rose Garden that says, "An Apple is a Rose?" The panel explains how botanists reclassified apples and other plants to the rose family.
On a side note, we can't guarantee a good outcome if you show up with a basket of apples or strawberries on Valentine's Day instead of a bouquet of flowers. Even if science sides with you, your mate may not!