Family composed of 9 genera and about 1,100 species of trees and shrubs, distributed mainly across temperate and tropical zones of the Northern Hemisphere. In North Africa it is represented by 2 genera of great ecological and economic value. The forests formed by some of these species play a vital role in the creation and stabilisation of soils and humidity, which is key against both the erosion and desertification that greatly affect this region.

Key to genera

1 Trees and shrubs, evergreen or deciduous. Leaves elliptic, obovate or suborbicular, rarely lanceolate. Male catkins pendant. Fruit only covered at the base by a dome, scaly or with non-spiny fringe Quercus

1 Large trees, deciduous. Leaves lanceolate. Male catkins erect. Fruits covered by a spherical shell of bristling long spines Castanea

Updated by: G. Benítez, J. Molero Mesa & J. Charco.