The families of flowering plants.                                                                                                                                                                

Oleaceae Hoffmgg. & Link


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IncludingBolivariaceae Griseb., Forstiereae (Forstieraceae) Endl., Fraxineae (Fraxinaceae) S.F. Gray, Iasmineae (Iasminaceae) Link, Jasmineae (Jasminaceae) Juss., Lilacaceae Ventenat, Nyctantheae (Nyctanthaceae) J.G. Agardh, Syringaceae Horan.

Habit and leaf form. Trees and shrubs, or lianas (sometimes). Self supporting, or climbing; the climbers stem twiners, or scrambling; Jasminum twining anticlockwise. Leptocaul. Mesophytic.Leaves deciduous (often), or evergreen; opposite (nearly always), or alternate; in Jasminum, spiral; petiolate; non-sheathing; simple, or compound; when compound ternate, or pinnate. Lamina when simple dissected, or entire; pinnately veined; cross-venulate. Leavesexstipulate. Lamina margins entire, or serrate, or dentate. Vegetative buds scaly. Leaves without a persistent basal meristem. Domatia occurring in the family (6 genera and numerous species); manifested as pits, or pockets, or hair tufts.

Leaf anatomy. Stomata usually anomocytic. Hairs present. Complex hairs present; usually peltate.

The mesophyll with sclerencymatous idioblasts (often), or without sclerenchymatous idioblasts. Minor leaf veins without phloem transfer cells (7 genera).

Stem anatomy. Cork cambium present; initially deep-seated (rarely), or superficial. Nodes unilacunar. Internal phloem absent. Secondary thickening developing from a conventional cambial ring. ‘Included’ phloem absent. Xylem with tracheids, or without tracheids; with fibre tracheids, or without fibre tracheids. Vessel end-walls scalariform, or scalariform and simple (with few cross bars). Vessels with vestured pits, or without vestured pits. Wood parenchyma paratracheal (typically), or apotracheal (occasionally diffuse, or absent).

Reproductive type, pollination. Plants hermaphrodite (usually), or polygamomonoecious.

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers solitary, or aggregated in ‘inflorescences’. The ultimate inflorescence unit cymose. Inflorescences racemes, panicles or fascicles. Flowers bracteate, or ebracteate; often fragrant; regular; usually 2–6 merous; cyclic;tricyclic, or tetracyclic. Free hypanthium absent. Hypogynous disk present (around G), or absent; intrastaminal.

Perianthwith distinct calyx and corolla (usually), or sepaline (the corolla sometimes lacking); typically 8; 2 whorled (usually), or 1 whorled; isomerous. Calyx 4(–15); 1 whorled; gamosepalous; entire, or lobulate, or blunt-lobed, or toothed (sometimes obsolete); regular; valvate. Corolla when present (i.e. usually) 4(–12); 1 whorled; polypetalous (rarely, more or less), or gamopetalous; imbricate, or valvate (or induplicate-valvate), or contorted; regular.

Androecium 2 (usually), or 4 (rarely). Androecial members adnate (to the corolla), or free of the perianth; free of one another; 1 whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 2(–4); reduced in number relative to the adjacent perianth; oppositisepalous; filantherous, or with sessile anthers. Anthers dorsifixed, or basifixed; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse. Endothecium developing fibrous thickenings. Microsporogenesis simultaneous. The initial microspore tetrads tetrahedral, or isobilateral, or T-shaped, or linear. Anther wall initially with one middle layer, or initially with more than one middle layer. Tapetum glandular. Pollen grains aperturate; (2–)3(–4) aperturate; colpate, or colporate (colporoidate, occasionally rupate); 2-celled (in 6 genera), or 3-celled (in Fontanesia).

Gynoecium 2 carpelled. Carpels reduced in number relative to the perianth. The pistil2 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; synovarious to eu-syncarpous; superior. Ovary 2 locular. Gynoecium median, or transverse, or oblique; stylate. Styles 1; apical. Stigmas 2 lobed; dry type; papillate, or non-papillate; Group II type. Placentationaxile. Ovules (1–)2(–50) per locule (usually two, but Jasminoideae with 1, 4 or ‘many’); pendulous, or ascending; with dorsal raphe; usually collateral; non-arillate; anatropous, or amphitropous; unitegmic; tenuinucellate. Endothelium differentiated. Embryo-sac development Polygonum-type, or Allium-type. Polar nuclei fusing prior to fertilization. Antipodal cells formed; 3; not proliferating; ephemeral. Synergids hooked. Endosperm formation cellular. Embryogeny caryophyllad, or solanad (?).

Fruit fleshy, or non-fleshy; dehiscent, or indehiscent, or a schizocarp. Mericarps when schizocarpic, 2; samaroid. Fruit when non-schizocarpic, a capsule, or a berry, or a drupe. Capsules loculicidal. Fruit 1–4 seeded. Seeds endospermic, or non-endospermic. Endosperm oily. Embryo rudimentary at the time of seed release (in Fraxinus excelsior), or weakly differentiated to well differentiated (?). Cotyledons 2. Embryo achlorophyllous (5/12); straight.

Seedling.Germination phanerocotylar, or cryptocotylar.

Physiology, biochemistry. Not cyanogenic. Alkaloids present (commonly), or absent. Iridoids detected; ‘Route I’ type (normal and seco). Verbascosides detected (4 genera). Cornoside detected (Forsythia). Proanthocyanidins absent. Flavonols present, or absent; quercetin, or kaempferol and quercetin. Ellagic acid absent (8 genera, species). Arbutin absent. Ursolic acid present. Saponins/sapogenins present, or absent. Aluminium accumulation not found. Sugars transported as oligosaccharides + sucrose, or as sugar alcohols + oligosaccharides + sucrose (and sucrose nowhere predominating, in the 6 genera sampled). C3. C3 physiology recorded directly in Ligustrum, Syringa.

Peculiar feature. The funicles not as in Acanthaceae.

Geography, cytology. Temperate to tropical. Cosmopolitan, save in frigid regions. X = 10, 11, 13, 14, 23, 24.

Taxonomy.Subclass Dicotyledonae; Tenuinucelli. Dahlgren’s Superorder Gentianiflorae; Oleales. Cronquist’s Subclass Asteridae; Solanales. APG 3 core angiosperms; core eudicot; Superorder Asteranae; lamiid; Order Lamiales.

Species 900. Genera about 25; Abeliophyllum, Chionanthus, Comoranthus,Fontanesia, Forestiera, Forsythia, Fraxinus, Haenianthus,Hesperelaea, Jasminum, Ligustrum, Linociera, Menodora,Myxopyrum, Nestegis, Noronhia, Noronhia, Notelaea,Nyctanthes, Olea, Osmanthus, Phyllyrea, Picconia,Schrebera, Syringa Tessarandra.

General remarks. See Johnson 1957.

Economic uses, etc. Edible fruit and edible and medicinal ‘olive oil’ from Olea europaea, cultivated trees and shrubs, timber trees (Jasminum, Osmanthus, Forsythia,Syringa, Ligustrum, Fraxinus, etc.


  • Technical details: Jasminum. 
  • Technical details: Syringa.
  • Technical details: Fraxinus, Olea.
  • Technical details: Schrebera.
  • Technical details: Ligustrum, Notelaea (Lindley). 
  • Fraxinus excelsior (B. Ent.).
  • Fraxinus exelsior: Eng. Bot. 902 (1866).
  • Fraxinus exelsior (simple-leaved form, as F. exelsior heterophylla): Eng. Bot. 903 (1866).
  • Jasminum glaucum: Bot. Reg. 2013, 1837.
  • Jasminum officinale: Bot. Mag. 31, 1787.
  • Jasminum humile f. wallichianum: Bot. Reg. 1409, 1831.
  • Ligustrum vulgare (B. Ent.).
  • Ligustrum vulgare: Eng. Bot. 904 (1866).
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