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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Order: Fagales 

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid I

Eight families, 33 genera and 1055 species, of which six families, 17 genera and 108 species are encountered in southern Africa. Of these only one family (Myricaceae) with one genus and 12 species is native to southern Africa. An additional two genera and three species are naturalised, and 14 genera and 93 species are cultivated in the region. The order includes familiar trees such as birches, casuarinas, chestnuts, oaks, walnuts, pecans and southern beeches (Nothofagus).

Families encountered in southern Africa

List from Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI).

Betulaceae (birches)

Six genera and 145 species (Northern Hemisphere and the Andes in South America), of which five genera and 23 species have been cultivated in southern Africa, mainly as garden trees. 



Four genera and 70 species, native to Malaysia, Australia and Polynesia with the distribution of the coastal species Casuarina equisetifolia extending to Madagascar and the east coast of tropical Africa. One genus and two species are naturalised in southern Africa and an additional genus and eight species are cultivated in the region.

Fagaceae (chestnut and oak family)

There are eight genera and about 700 species, widely distributed but with no native species in sub-Saharan Africa. One species of oak, Quercus robur (English oak) has become naturalised in southern Africa and an addition three genera and 45 species are cultivated in the region.

Quercus robur

Juglandaceae (walnut and pecan nut family)

Eight genera and about 50 species (North temperate regions, South America, Malesia), of which three genera and nine species are cultivated in southern Africa including Walnut Juglans regia and Pecan Carya illinoinensis.

Jugans regia (Walnut)


Four genera and 57 species (more-or-less cosmopolitan but not in Australia), with one genus (Morella) and 12 speces native to southern Africa and a further genus (Myrica) and two species cultivated in southern Africa.

Nothofagaceae (southern beeches)

One genus: Nothofagus. Thirty-five species, native to southern Pacifc rim, including Chile, eastern Australia, New Zealand and New Guinea; also known from fossils in Antarctica. Six species have been cultivated in southern Africa. Previously placed in the Fagaceae.


Families not encountered in southern Africa: Rhoipteleaceae, Ticodendraceae