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Plant Focus

Quercus macdougallii
A rare oak endemic to the Sierra Juárez in Oaxaca

Major Asian Lineages of the Family Fagaceae

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Charles H. Cannon

Published May 2019 in International Oaks No. 30: 69–76


The Asian tropics and subtropics are home to several major lineages of the Fagaceae that are largely endemic to the region. The stone oaks (Lithocarpus), comprising over 250 species, show a large number of morphological and ecological similarities to oaks but also some major differences, like insect pollination and a unique fruit type. The tropical chestnuts (Castanopsis), with over 150 species, have an almost identical but slightly narrower geographic and ecological distribution as the stone oaks. Trigonobalanus is an ancient relictual genus of three species with a sparse distribution of small gregarious populations scattered in non-overlapping ranges in Southeast Asia and South America. These lineages offer a compelling set of comparative questions with Quercus about differences in ecology and evolution across biomes, continents, and millennia. As resources for the detailed study of the genus Quercus continue to develop rapidly, opportunities for transferring knowledge, protocols, and expertise to these comparative analyses with the Asian lineages should be actively pursued.


Lithocarpus, Quercus, Trigonobalanus, Castanopsis, cupule evolution


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