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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Fagaceae (Chestnut and Oak family)

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 > Order: Fagales

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.

Genera naturalised in southern Africa

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

Quercus (oaks)

About 350-450 species worldwide, native to northern temperate and subtropical regions, extending into the tropics of W Malasia and NW South America. There are about 41 species of oaks that are cultivated as garden and street trees to southern Africa, of which one, Quercus robur (English oak), has become naturalised in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Quercus robur

Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa

List from Glen (2002). The species name is provided in genera that have only one species represented in southern Africa. Nothofagus is now placed in the Nothofagaceae.

Fagus sylvatica (European beech)

Castanea (chestnuts)

Eight species, native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Three species are cultivated in southern Africa including the the Sweet chestnut Castanea sativa.  


Lithocarpus edulis (Japanese stone oak)

Native to Japan.



  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated Plants of Southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.