Rose Anatomy

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Posted on 11/09/2021

Understanding the Anatomy of Roses

Knowing the parts of a rose can help you succeed with growing and caring for your favorite garden roses. Many of these terms apply to perennial and annual flowers, too.

Rose Anatomy 101

From buds to roots, we detail rose and flower anatomy.


Upper portion of the stamen that contains to grains of pollen.


An ear-like projection from the tip of the stipule.


The upper angle where the leaf and stem join.

Basal break

A new cane (stem) that originates from or near the bud union.


A leaf (different than an ordinary leaf) that has a smaller, different shape and which grows from the peduncle just below the flower.


A shoot or young rose whose petals have not yet opened fully.

Bud Union

In the case of a grafted rose, this is the area where the bud was grafted to the root stock.


Counting from the peduncle, this is the first of a series of floral parts composed of sepals.


The stems of a rose.


Organ bearing the ovules along its margins.


The stalk of the stamen that supports the anther.


Group of flowers.


Rose leaves are described as ‘pinnate’ meaning there is a central rib and then leaflets off to each side, with one terminal leaflet. Most modern roses have 5-leaflets and occasionally include a few 3-leaflets close to the bloom.


The edge of a leaf or petal.


The swollen basal portion of a pistil that contains to ovules or seeds.


The structure that, after fertilization, develops into the seed .


The main stem of an inflorescence or individual flower.


One of the units of the corolla of the flower.


The stalk of the leaf.


The central organ of the flower made up of one or more carpels and containing the ovule.


Commonly referred to as a thorn.


The underground parts of the rose that support the plant and absorb water and nutrients to feed the plant.


One of the units of the calyx, roses generally have five sepals.


The organ of the flowers that produces the pollen.


Attached to a leaf and found on the lower part of the petiole and may be partially attached to the stem.

As summer turns into fall, the rose season, sadly, is drawing to a close. But on the bright side, the season of rose hips is finally here! I’ll attempt to explain what rose hips are and why you want them, but first it to really understand rose hips, first we need to understand flower anatomy and fruiting.

Flowers get pollinated when the pollen from an anther makes its way to the stigma of another flower of the same species (or the same flower, if it is a self-pollinator). Pollinators like bees often aid in this process. The pollen travels down the style and fertilizes ovules in the flower’s ovary. Once the flower is pollinated, the ovary structure typically develops into fruit, while the ovule typically develops into seeds. The petals often fall away and the plant shunts its energy into the fruit, giving less energy to new flowers. I’ll explain why this matters to the rose gardener, but first let’s look at the anatomy of a rose bush.


Here is a fantastic video from the renowned Rosarian Paul Zimmerman where he defines several other common terms related to roses.

In this video, he does a wonderful job of explaining and clarifying several esoteric terms that you might here rose gardeners bandy about, like: Outward-Facing Bud Eye, Main Eye, Guard Eye, Five-Leaflet Leaf Set, Bud Union, Basal Break, Blind Shoot, and Rose Hip.

Take a look: Rose Hips and Other Terms

Why Rose Hips Matter

In most modern roses, selective breeding has made the filaments shrink down while the petals proliferate and grow larger. The result is that most modern roses are much harder to pollinate because insects simply can’t get down to the pollen. Many single roses, shrub roses, and/or species roses are still able to pollinate “the old fashioned way”, but the hardest-to-pollinate rose species generally rely on rose breeders to keep propagating them.

You might not be a rose breeder who cares about getting viable rose seeds, but you should still pay attention to rose hips because 1. You want your plant to keep blooming, and 2. You want your plant to survive the winter. So, throughout the blooming season you should keep your roses from forming hips. You do this by deadheading (snipping off spent blooms) whenever the petals start to fall off. Doing this keeps sending the signal to the rose that it hasn’t successfully bred yet, and it needs to keep producing more flowers. In the fall you want to STOP deadheading and instead let your roses set hips. This sends the signal to your plant that it has done its job and can stop flowering and start getting ready for winter. A rose that is still trying to bloom when the first frost arrives is much more likely to suffer frost damage than a rose that has already gone dormant.

Rose hips are also a nutritious, Vitamin C rich treat. You can enjoy them yourself by making rose hip jam or jelly OR you can leave them on your shrubs and give the local birds a snack to help get them through the winter.