The Sapotaceae are trees or shrubs with milky sap comprising about 70 genera and 800 species that are often further characterized by the presence of reddish-brown hairs on the leaf undersides and other plant surfaces. The leaves are simple, coriaceous, alternate or rarely opposite, usually entire, with or without stipules. The flowers are bisexual and actinomorphic. The calyx consists of 4-12 imbricate, biseriate or spirally disposed sepals that are usually basally connate. The corolla is gamopetalous and generally has 4-12 imbricated lobes that sometimes are appendaged. The androecium is adnate to the corolla and usually consists of an inner whorl of fertile stamens equal in number and opposite to the corolla lobes, and often 1 or 2 additional whorls that are frequently reduced to staminodes or are obsolete. The gynoecium comprises a single compound pistil, a single style, and a superior ovary typically with 4 or 5 locules but sometimes fewer or up to 14, each with a single axile ovule. The fruit is a berry.
Each "thumbnail" image below is linked to a larger photograph.
|Chrysophyllum pruniferum, Orleans plum. Note the red hairs on the stems and undersides of leaves. The flowers in this species are 5-parted. No corolla appendages are present and only one whorl of stamens is evident.|
|Manilkara zapota, chicle. Notice the imbricated calyx, perhaps in two series, the white corolla, and the single style. Reddish hairs are visible on the calyx and some of the other surfaces in the background. The front view of the chicle flower in the right photo reveals 6 corolla lobes and additional appendages. The whorl of functional stamens attached to the corolla opposite the corolla lobes is also visible.|
|Pouteria caimito, abiu.|
|Pouteria campechiana, egg fruit.|
|Pouteria lucuma, lucmo.|
||Pouteria sandwicensis, 'ala'a. This photo of the Hawaiian endemic member of the family has a 7-lobed corolla and whorl of 7 stamens opposite the corolla lobes. In addition, a whorl of staminodes alternates with the petals. Note also the reddish hairs on the peduncle and other parts of the buds in the photo.|
|Pouteria sapota, mamey sapote, marmalade fruit. Central American tree with milky sap and large, orange, egg-shaped fruits with sweet edible pulp; eaten raw or made into marmalade, jelly, sherbets, and ice cream. Oil from the reportedly poisonous seeds were used by the Aztecs for hair dressing and medicine.|
|Pouteria viride, green sapote.|
|Synsepalum dulcificum, miracle-fruit.|
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