|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Fagaceae (from the genus Fagus, the classical name, in allusion to the esculent nuts). Beech Family. Fig. 16. Trees or shrubs: leaves simple, alternate: flowers monoecious; the staminate in slender catkins, one flower with each bract and a perianth of 4-6 parts; the pistillate solitary or in groups of 3, epigynous, the perianth reduced; ovary mostly 3- or 6-celled; ovules 2 in each cell, suspended, all but one in the ovary aborting; integuments 2; stigmas 3: fruit a 1-seeded nut, which singly, or in a group of 2-3, is surrounded by a special involucre.
The family has 5 genera and about 600 species, all natives of the subtropical and temperate northern hemisphere, except the antarctic genus, Nothofagus. The largest genera are Quercus with 200 species, and Pasania with 100 species. The family is related to the Betulaceae and other amentiferous families; but the staminate flowers alone in catkins, the indehiscent 1-seeded fruit, the 3 carpels, and the special involucre are distinctive. There has been much debate as to the morphology of the involucre,—whether it is composed of the bracteoles of the little dichasium, or represents sterile scales of the condensed catkin, or is a wholly new outgrowth of the subfloral axis. The latter is a recent view of Engler. This involucre becomes the bur in beech and chestnut, and the cup in the oak.
The wood of white oak, red oak and many other species is very valuable, as is also that of beech and chestnut. The bark of Quercus Suber of Spain yields bottle-cork. The bark of Q. velutina of America is called quercitron, and is used to dye yellow. The kermes insect, which furnishes a crimson dye, lives on Q. coccifera of the Mediterranean. The stings of gall insects produce the commercial oak-galls from which tannic and gallic acid are obtained, and from which ink was made. Officinal creosote is distilled from the tar of species of Fagus. The nut-like fruits of Castanea, Fagus, Quercus Ilex, Q. Robur, and Q. Aegilops are eaten. The cups of Q. Aegilops are sold for dyeing black and for tanning. The bark from many species of this family is used for tan-bark.
In America several genera are cultivated for ornament, food, and timber: Castanea inc. (Chestnut, Chinquapin); Castanopsis Fagus (Beech); Nothofagus, little known; Quercus (Oak, Black Jack).CH
- Castanea - Chestnuts
- Chrysolepis - Golden chinkapin
- Fagus - Beeches
- Lithocarpus - Stone oaks
- Nothofagus - Southern beeches
- Quercus - Oaks
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963