Chase, Mark W. Molecular Systematics Section, Jodrell Laboratory, Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, Surrey, United Kingdom.
Last reviewed:June 2021
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An order of flowering plants composed of seven eumagnoliid families of tropical tree and shrub species. The plant order Laurales, with approximately 2500–2800 species, contains numerous trees and shrubs having ecological significance. Members of the Laurales are most closely related to members of the Magnoliales, from which they differ in their partly inferior ovaries and their biaperturate or inaperturate pollen, as well as to members of the Piperales and Canellales. Species belonging to the Lauraceae (the laurel or cinnamon family; see illustration) are the best known and largest, but members of the Monimiaceae and its segregates (Atherospermataceae and Siparunaceae) are also important. Nearly all Laurales species have aromatic oils, which are important spices, perfumes, and medicines. Moreover, the flowers of Laurales species are generally small and often arranged in distinct whorls. However, some flowers, such as those of members of the Calycanthaceae, are large and much like those of members of the Magnoliales because parts are arranged spirally and intergrade. See also: Essential oil; Eumagnoliids; Magnoliales; Piperales; Pollen; Spice and flavoring
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