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a family of dicotyledonous plants. They are trees and shrubs and, rarely, parasitic herbs. The simple leaves are generally leathery and persistent; as a rule, they are alternate and exstipulate. The flowers are three-parted (more rarely five-or two-parted), bisexual (sometimes unisexual), regular, small, and racemose. The ovary is superior; very rarely is it inferior. The fruit is a monospermous berry or drupe and is often surrounded by a fleshy floral tubule. The leaves, bark, and other parts of many plants of this family have glands that contain essential oils.
There are 40 to 50 genera (over 2,000 species) of Lauraceae, distributed predominantly in the tropics; they are less frequently encountered in the subtropics. Only a few genera are found in temperate regions, where they had been widely distributed in the Tertiary period. The Lauraceae include the genera Cinnamomum (including the camphor tree), Laurus, and Sassafras, as well as other useful plants. Many species of Lauraceae yield spices (bay leaves and cinnamon), edible fruits (avocado), camphor, essential oils, medicinal substances, wood for construction and the manufacture of small articles, and other valuable products.