The Oleaceae are trees or shrubs comprising about 30 genera and 600 species. The leaves are opposite and simple or pinnately compound; stipules are absent. The flowers are actinomorphic and bisexual or rarely unisexual. The calyx is typically small and synsepalous, and most commonly 4-lobed but sometimes has more lobes or rarely is absent. The corolla is actinomorphic, 4-merous or sometimes up to 12-merous, and is nearly always sympetalous, though sometimes very deeply lobed. The androecium usually consists of two stamens born on the corolla tube or perigynous zone, alternate with the lobes. The gynoecium consists of a single compound pistil of 2 carpels, a single or no style, and a superior ovary with 2 locules, each with usually 2 axile ovules. A nectary disk is sometimes present around the base of the ovary. The fruit is variable.
Each "thumbnail" image below is linked to a larger photograph.
||Forsythia sp. This species also shows the 4-parted perianth and 2 stamens typical of the family.|
||Fraxinus latifolia, Oregon ash, Corvallis, OR, July 2003.|
||Jasminum laurifolium, ornamental shrub with sweet-scented flowers, from the Admiralty Islands. Note dichasium (3rd image).|
|Jasminum mesnyi, primrose jasmine. This is a cultivar with a "doubled" flower.|
||Jasminum multiflorum, star jasmine. This is one of the relatively few species of the family that has more than 4-merous perianth. It still has only two stamens. Note dichasium (3rd image).|
|Ligustrum ovalifolium, privet. Note the small, 4-lobed calyx. In this species the corolla tube is well developed.|
||Noronhia emarginata, Madagascar olive. A 4-merous, actinomorphic sympetalous corolla and 2 stamens is a combination characteristic of the olive family. In this species the fruit is drupaceous.|
||Olea europaea, olive. Small tree from the Mediterranean, the leaves with silvery undersides; cultivated for more than 4000 years for the fruits and the valuable oil they contain. The olive branch is the ancient emblem for peace; the wood is hard and durable.|
|Osmanthus fragrans, kwai-fah. Note the opposite leaves and 4-parted corolla but only two stamens.|
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