Description: Trees or shrubs with white or yellowish latex, often with indumentum of T-shaped hairs.
Leaves simple, entire, mostly alternate, sometimes crowded towards ends of branches; stipules small or absent.
Inflorescence axillary, sometimes ramiflorous; flowers often in few-flowered clusters or solitary, rarely in panicles. Flowers actinomorphic, mostly bisexual. Sepals usually free, mostly 5 in one whorl, or in 2 whorls each of 2, 3 or 4. Petals usually the same number as the sepals, mostly in 1 whorl and fused at the base [the lobes often with dorsal or lateral appendages]. Stamens epipetalous, either equal in number to the sepals and opposite the corolla lobes or more numerous, sometimes alternating with an outer whorl of staminodes; anthers 2-locular, dehiscing by longitudinal slits. Ovary superior, mostly 1–5-locular; ovules 1 per loculus; style simple.
Fruit usually a berry; seeds large, 1–several, testa shiny and often thick and bony, with a distinct scar of attachment.
Distribution and occurrence: World: 25–75 genera, c. 800 species, widespread in tropical regions. Australia: 3 genera, 13 species, Qld, N.S.W., N.T., W.A., chiefly tropical
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Sapotaceae, Order: Ericales)
A number of species have been used for timber. Some have edible fruits, such as the Star-apple, Chrysophyllum cainito L. and the Sapote, Pouteria sapota (Jacq.) H. Moore & Stearn, of tropical America The latex of some species has a variety of uses ranging from dental work to providing a base for chewing gum.
This family is undergoing revision; however, many of the new combinations have not been published and therefore, are not available at this stage. However, some of the proposed changes in this family are foreshadowed and available names are given as synonyms under the currently used names.
Text by G. J. Harden
Taxa not yet included in identification key
| ||Key to the genera|| |
|1||Milky latex mostly absent in fresh material; fruit 1- or 2-seeded, seeds rounded, ellipsoid if solitary, or flattened on one surface if 2 seeds present; scar 5–10 mm wide; flowers and fruit sessile; staminodes absent||Niemeyera|
|Milky latex mostly present, sometimes sparse, in fresh material; fruit 1–6-seeded, seeds more or less angular, narrow-ellipsoid; scar less than 3 mm wide; flowers and fruit stalked; staminodes present||Pleioluma|