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Cryptocarya is a genus of evergreen trees belonging to the laurel family, Lauraceae. The genus includes more than 350 species, distributed through the Neotropical, Afrotropical, Indomalayan, and Australasian realms.

The genus includes species of evergreen trees, distributed mostly in tropical and subtropical regions of South America, Mauritius, India, China, Java, New Guinea, and Africa, seven species in Southern Africa.

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Common in the canopy, they grow up to 60 m, or as subcanopy trees in the succession climax species in tropical, lower temperate, or subtropical broadleaved forests. They are found in low-elevation evergreen forests and littoral rainforests, on all type of soils. The seeds are readily dispersed by fruit-eating birds, and seedlings and saplings have been recorded from other habitats where they are unlikely to develop to maturity.

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The genus name Cryptocarya is from a Greek word krypto meaning to hide, karya meaning a walnut tree, the fruit of which was known as karyon, a word also used to describe other fruits. Sometimes, they are called mountain laurels or mountain walnuts. The fruit are succulent, partially immersed in a deep, thick cup.


In a recent generic classification of Lauraceae based on DNA sequence,[1] Cryptocarya was found to be part of a strongly supported clade that also includes Beilschmiedia, Potameia, Endiandra and Aspidostemon.[2]

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