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a family of dicotyledons that include shrubs, small trees, and—less commonly—subshrubs and herbs. The exstipulate leaves are usually small, narrow, and entire. The flowers are in inflorescences. The bisexual flowers are regular, tetramerous or pentamerous, apetalous, and sometimes solitary; the unisexual ones are irregular and hexamerous or trimerous. The sepals are petaloid and usually fused into a tube.
There are about 50 genera, embracing 600 species. The plants occur in the warm and temperate belts, mainly in South America and Australia but also in the Mediterranean region and East and Southeast Asia. The USSR has seven genera, with about 40 species. The most common genus is Daphne. Bast fiber is strongly developed in the roots of many species; the fiber is sometimes used to make yarn, paper, and other products.