What Plant Has Thorns & Leaves Like a Rose?

Written by elisabeth ginsburg
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What Plant Has Thorns & Leaves Like a Rose?
Raspberry plants have thorns and leaves that are somewhat like their relative, the rose. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Roses are the most prominent members of the Rosaceae family, but far from the only ones. Within the family are many plants with leaves and protective thorns similar to those of some roses. It is important to remember that not all roses have the same types of leaves and thorns. Rose leaves range from tiny to 2 or more inches in length and may have smooth or slightly toothed edges. They can be wrinkled (rugose), as in the rugosa species and hybrid roses. Thorns or prickles range from large and straight or hooked to small and bristlelike.


Raspberries, blackberries and hybrids like loganberries are part of the Rosaceae family and feature leaves and prickles similar to roses. Raspberry is known botanically as "Rubus idaeus." Berry pickers have suffered scratches from its prickles for centuries. The leaves are toothed and oval-shaped, like some roses. "Rubus fruticosa" or blackberry features leaflets in groups of five, similar to rose leaf groupings. It also sports prickles up and down the stems. The five-petaled flowers of these members of the genus Rubus also resemble those of single roses.


The fruit-bearing quince tree or shrub, Cydonia, and the ornamental flowering quince, Chaenomeles feature roselike leaves, but only the flowering quince has thorns. It also features small, roselike leaves that are oval-shaped and glossy in some species like "Chaenomeles speciosa." The thorns on flowering quince are straight, very sharp and grow nearly perpendicular to the stems. The most popular flowering quince is sometimes known as Japanese quince.


Pyracantha or firethorn shrubs grow up to 18 feet tall and are often trained as climbers. The leaves are a little more elongated than those generally found on roses, but are dark green, glossy and slightly toothed like those of their rose relatives. Pyracantha has long straight thorns, similar to those found on flowering quince. The thorns have made the shrub a popular choice for barrier plantings.


Hawthorn, known botanically as Crataegus, is one of the largest plants with roselike leaves and prominent thorns. Hawthorn trees grow up to 36 feet tall, but the best known species "Crataegus monogyna" is a shrubby plant, often used for hedging. The majority of hawthorns have sharp spines on the stems. Species like the American hawthorn "Cartaegus Crus-galli" or "Cock-spur thorn," feature slightly toothed, ovoid leaves that are dark, glossy green. The resemblance between rose leaves and the leaves of "Crataegus mongyna" is less pronounced, as the leaves are lobed rather than ovoid in shape.

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