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(beech family), a family of dicotyledonous plants. Deciduous or evergreen trees; a few are shrubs, with alternate simple leaves with stipules, which for the most part fall off early. Fagaceae are predominantly diclinous plants, distributed in temperate, tropical, and subtropical lands of both hemispheres, except for tropical and southern Africa. The flowers in more or less reduced dichasia are small, with plain perianths, are almost always unisexual, and are usually gathered into catkins, little balls, or spicate aggregate inflorescences. The ovary is inferior. The fruit is usually an acorn or acorn-like (a nut) with a leathery or hard pericarp enclosed in a cupule that becomes woody upon ripening. There are seven to nine genera (about 600 species), many of which have great economic value. The most important genera are beech (Fagus), chestnut (Castanea), oak (Quercus), and Pasania; over 100 species of these genera occur mainly from India to New Guinea; the antarctic beech (Nothofagus) has about 45 species in antarctic South America, New Guinea, southern Australia, Tasmania, New Caledonia, and New Zealand. Oaks, beeches, and chestnuts grow in the USSR.
REFERENCESTakhtadzhian, A. L. Sistema i filogeniia tsvetkovykh rastenii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1966.
Hutchinson, J. The Genera of Flowering Plants, vol. 2. Oxford, 1967.
M. E. KIRPICHNIKOV