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The 29 genera of the Oleaceae family of dicotyledons account for 600 species of trees, shrubs and occassionaly woody climbers. In temperate and tropical Asia, Oleaceae are especially abundant.

Species within the family provide several commercial products such as: Food, lumber, cosmetics, and edible and medicinal 'olive oil'. Oleaceae afford practical benefits as well. Fraxinus pennsylvanica, is used as a windbreak tree in the mid-west. Wildlife food and habitat are provided by several Oleaceae. Several Oleaceae have ornamental features. For example, Fraxinus americana has a beautiful fall color and Forsythia .spp have a vibrant yellow spring color.

"Oleaceae nearly always have opposite, very rarely alternate or whorled leaves that may be undivided or pinnate, and toothless or toothed, (Everett, p. xx, 1981)." The family is rarely unisexual, and more commonly bisexual. The small flowers are in panicles or branched clusters. The flower parts are in two's with the anthers and stamen usually touching. The ovary is superior, with two ovules. "Calyxes may not be present on the flowers, if they are, they are usually four-lobed. The corollas are of four or more separate or partly united petals or may be lacking. There are two or very seldom four stamens and one style capped with a two lobed stigma, (Everett, p.xx, 1981)." Berries, drupes, capsules or samaras are the type of fruit found on the family Oleaceae.

Genera within the Oleaceae family include: Abeliophyllum, Chionanthus, Fontanesia, Forestiera, Forsythia, Fraxinus, Jasminum, Ligustrum, Menodora, Nestegis, Noronhia, Olea, Osmanthus, Osmarea, Philyrea, Syringa, and Ximenia.


Additional information about the family Oleaceae may found at: Cornell


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Horticulture 300: Thadd M. Huss, Lisa Dixon, Regis Zapatka, Chris Kurt, Cindy Frobose