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The cupule holds and protects the seed during its growth and maturation. In some genera it only partly encloses the single nut, while in others, it fully encloses the two or more nuts, and splits open at maturity into four valves to release the nuts. The cupule is covered by numerous scales. In some species the scales are developed into sharp spines, giving the nut protection from squirrels and other seed predators.
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