The Lauraceae or Laurel family comprises a group of flowering plants included in the order Laurales. The family contains about 55 genera and over 2000 (perhaps as many as 4000) species world-wide, mostly from warm or tropical regions, especially Southeast Asia and Brazil. Most are aromatic evergreen trees or shrubs, but Sassafras and one or two other genera are deciduous, and Cassytha is a genus of parasitic vines.
Trees of the laurel family predominate in the world's laurel forests, which occur in a few humid subtropical and mild temperate regions of the northern and southern hemispheres, including the Macaronesian islands, southern Japan, Madagascar, and central Chile.
There are three main economical uses for this family. A high content of ethereal oils are found in many Lauraceae. Ethereal oils are important sources for spices and perfumes. Avocados are important oil-rich fruit that are now planted in warm climates across the world. The hard wood of several species is a source for timber around the world.
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