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Members of the Beech family are trees or shrubs, either deciduous or evergreen. The leaves are simple, alternate and often, but not always, lobed like the oak leaf shown here. The flowers are typically unisexual, with both male and female flowers appearing on the same plant (monoecious). Staminate (male) flowers have 4 to 6 sepals, 0 petals and 4 to 40 stamens. The pistillate (female) flowers have 4 to 6 sepals and 0 petals. The ovary is positioned inferior and consists of 3 (sometimes 6) united carpels (syncarpous) forming a single chamber. Usually only one ovule is fertilized; it matures as a nut, usually attached to a scaly or spiny cap formed of numerous small, overlapping bracts.
Key Words: Trees or shrubs with single nuts attached to scaly or spiny caps.
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