Family description

Trees (the Oak family) without latex or coloured sap, often with thick, deeply cracked bark.
Leaves alternate, spirally arranged, often clustered near the end of twigs. With stipules, which are often dropped early.
Flowers tiny, usually creamy-yellow, in slender, catkin like clusters at end of twigs and upper leaf axils, males and females in different flowers on the same tree. Males with 6 (4-7) spreading sepals, no petals and 6-18 free stamens. Females similar but sepals closely pressed together around 3 styles, ovary inferior.
Fruit a nut, partly or completely enclosed by cupules often with spines or ridges.

General info

Distribution Pan-tropical (except Africa), but mostly temperate. About 700 species.
Ecology Dominant component of hill and montane evergreen forests.
Uses Firewood (coppicing), timber, edible nuts.
Similar to Myricaceae, but thid family differs in having a superior ovary and fruit being a drupe. Lauraceae, this family differs in absence of stipules and fleshy cupule at the base of a fleshy drupe.

Treated genera

  • Castanopsis
  • Lithocarpus
  • Quercus


Castanopsis oviformis

Lithocarpus gracilus

Quercus elmeri