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This family consists of 6 genera of deciduous or evergreen trees and shrubs. The most familiar characteristic is the presence of a nut fruit surrounded in part by a modified leaflike structures or bracts. (Examples include chestnut, acorn, and beechnut)

  • leaves are alternate and simple and have lobed, toothed, or entire margins.
  • flowers are unisexual and are wind pollinated
  • male flowers occur in catkins (spikelike) or singly; and have 4 to 7 sepals, a vestigial pistil, and 4 to 40 stamens
  • female flowers may be single or in clusters
  • the ovary is inferior and has 3 to 6 chambers

Also known as the Beech family, Fagaceae provide high quality lumber (chestnuts, beeches, and particularly oaks) and food (chestnuts). They are dominant trees in mixed deciduous forests in the Northern hemisphere and include many species that are valued as ornamentals. The American chestnut (Castanea dentata) was devastated by "chestnut blight", an actinomycete fungus.

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