A family of trees and shrubs that have simple or palmate, alternate leaves with stipules. The flowers are either bisexual or unisexual, and the plants either monoecious or dioecious. The flowers are usually held in a spike. The calyx is 4 or 5 united sepals and the same number of petals. There are up to 14 stamens. The position of the ovary is variable from one species to another; it always has 2 locules and 2 styles. The fruit is a woody exocarp or a brittle endocarp (see pericarp). There are 28 genera, with about 90 species, and representatives of the family are found throughout subtropical and temperate zones of the world, concentrated in eastern Asia. Several genera give useful timbers and aromatic gums (e.g. Liquidambar). Hamamelis is the genus of witch hazel of which H. virginiana gives the soothing lotion used in medicine. Other species are ornamentals.
Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry.