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: 60–80 genera, c. 1300 species, widespread in tropical regions. Australia: 10 genera, 36 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.
Text by G. J. Harden, updated by K.L. Gibbons July 2021. Key modified from Jessup (2019).
Taxon concept: Jessup, L.W. (2019). A taxonomic revision of Sapotaceae for mainland Australia. Austrobaileya 10(3): 321–382.
| ||Key to the genera|| |
|1||Corolla with spreading, recurved or revolute lobes; stamens exserted; staminoides absent; style without discrete stigmatic areas||2|
|Corolla with more or less erect lobes; stamens included; staminoides sometimes present; style with more or less discrete stigmatic areas||3|
|2||venation eucamptodromous; tertiary leaf venation oblique between secondaries or from a secondary vein running more or less perpendicular to the midvein; quaternary venation reticulate and mostly visible below; seed testa papery||Niemeyera|
|Venation brochidodromous, tertiary leaf venation descending from margin, parallel to secondary veins; quaternary venation ± obscured below by persistent indumentum; seed testa woody or bony |
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|3||Leaves with tertiary and higher order venation finely areolate; stamens inserted at or below the middle of the corolla tube||Pleioluma|
|Leaves with tertiary venation often parallel to and reticulate between secondary veins, never areolate; stamens inserted above the middle of the corolla tube and usually just below the corolla tube orifice|
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