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a family of dicotyledonous, primarily evergreen plants. It includes trees, shrubs, and subshrubs. The simple leaves are opposite or, less commonly, alternate, glandular-punctate (glands producing essential oils), entire, and leathery. The regular, bisexual flowers usually are in inflorescenses. There are four or five sepals and the same number of petals; there are generally numerous stamens. The fruit may be a drupe, capsule, or berry.
There are approximately 100 genera, with 3,000 species, distributed primarily in tropical and subtropical regions—mainly in tropical America and Australia. Many species are found in Polynesia. In the USSR there are only cultivated species (eucalyptus, myrtle). Many species yield edible fruits, such as guava and feijoa; others, particularly certain species of eucalyptus, provide valuable lumber. Essential oils and spices are obtained from the clove tree and the cajuput tree; other species yield medicinal substances.