Prunoideae, also called Amygdaloideae, has been considered a subfamily within the flowering plant family Rosaceae. It was formerly considered by some to be separate from Rosaceae, and the family names Prunaceae and Amygdalaceae have been used. Commercially, important members of the Prunoideae include plum, cherry, apricot, peach, and almond. The fruit of these plants are known as stone fruit (botanically, a drupe), as each fruit contains a hard shell (botanically, the endocarp) called a stone or pit, which contains the single seed.
The taxonomy of this group of plants within the Rosaceae has recently been unclear. In 2001 it was reported by Chinese geneticists that Prunoideae consist of two distinct genetic groups or "clades", Prunus-Maddenia and Exochorda-Oemleria-Prinsepia. Further refinement shows that Exochorda-Oemleria-Prinsepia is somewhat separate from Prunus-Maddenia-Pygeum, and that, like subfamily Maloideae, all of these genera appear to be best considered within subfamily Spiraeoideae. With this classification the genus Prunus is considered to include Armeniaca, Cerasus, Amygdalus, Padus, Laurocerasus, Pygeum, and Maddenia. Other, non-cladist taxonomists consider the Prunoideae to be a single tribe, or else three separate tribes .
Robert Frost alluded to the merging of Prunaceae into Rosaceae in his poem The Rose Family , when he wrote "The rose is a rose and was always a rose / But the theory now goes that the apple's a rose, / and the pear is, and so's the plum, I suppose." In the next line he wrote, "The dear [i.e., "the dear Lord", euphemized] only knows what will next prove a rose." This referred to the botanical debate, going on at the time (c. 1920), about just what should be included in the Rosaceae.
1. ^ a b Potter, D., et al. (2007). Phylogeny and classification of Rosaceae. Plant Systematics and Evolution. 266(1–2): 5–43.
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