Beeches and oaks are best known for their edible fruits. From an oak tree's acorns to the nuts of beech and chestnut trees, these fruits are part of the diet of many animals, including humans. Also recognisable are the alternately arranged, and often lobed, simple leaves and the seperate male and female flowers (catkins). Beeches, oaks and their relatives make up this family of flowering plants that can be deciduous or evergreen and grow either as trees or shrubs. There are around 1,000 species, the majority being oaks, with a wide distribution predominately in the broadleaf forests of the northern hemisphere.
Scientific name: Fagaceae
The following habitats are found across the Beeches and oaks distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Discover the other animals and plants that lived during the following geological time periods.
The family Fagaceae, or beech family, comprises about 600 species of both evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs, which are characterized by alternate simple leaves with pinnate venation, unisexual flowers in the form of catkins, and fruit in the form of cup-like (cupule) nuts. Fagaceous leaves are often lobed and both petioles and stipules are generally present. Fruits lack endosperm and lie in a scaly or spiny husk that may or may not enclose the entire nut, which may consist of one to seven seeds. The best-known group of this family is the oaks, genus Quercus, the fruit of which is a non-valved nut (usually containing one seed) called an acorn. The husk of the acorn in most oaks only forms a cup in which the nut sits.
Several members of the Fagaceae have important economic uses. Many species of oak, chestnut, and beech (genera Quercus, Castanea, and Fagus, respectively) are commonly used as timber for floors, furniture, cabinets, and wine barrels. Cork for stopping wine bottles and a myriad of other uses is made from the bark of cork oak, Quercus suber. Chestnuts, a tasty treat enjoyed by many in the winter, are the fruits from species of the genus Castanea. Numerous species from several genera are prominent ornamentals, and wood chips from the genus Fagus are often used in flavoring beers.
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