In this article we will discuss about Sapotaceae:- 1. Characters of Sapotaceae 2. Distribution of Sapotaceae 3. Economic Importance.
Characters of Sapotaceae:
Trees and shrubs with laticiferous vessels; Leaves, flowers and fruits often clothed with hairs; flower hermaphrodite, hypogynous, actinomorphic; sepals 2-8 in two isomerous whorls or 5 in one whorl; pelals 4-8 gamopetalous in one whorl, rarely double the sepals in two whorls; stamens epipetalous in 2-3 whorls, the outer antisepalous whorl reduced to staminodes or absent; carpels many, syncarpous; ovary superior, completely separated, many chambered, axile placentation.
A. Vegetative characters:
Trees or shrubs with laticiferous milky sap.
Erect, woody, branched.
Simple, alternate or opposite usually entire, coriaccous, sometimes stipulate, hairy leathery.
B. Floral characters:
Solitary or in cymose clustes in the leaf axils or on old stems.
Actinomorphic, hermaphrodite, hypogynous, hairy bracteolate.
Sepals 4-8, in two isomerous whorls or 5 in one whorl, free or slightly united at the base, imbricate persistent.
Petals 4-8, more or less united, in one whorl or more rarely double the number of sepals in two whorls, united in semi-funnel shaped rotate or lenceolate corolla, corolla lobes imbricate or contorted in bud, rarely petals with dorsal appendages which resemble corolla lobes.
Stamens 4-5, sometimes more, in 2 or 3 whorls of 4-5 each but usually only the inner whorl fertile, epipetalous, the outer whorl of steames reduced to staminodes; another bithecous, introrse dehiscing longitudinally.
Carpels number is double that of stamens, syncarpous, superior ovary; with as many chambers as carpels, axile placentation, style simple; stigma inconspicuous and sticky ovule anatropous, integument one.
Berry inner pulp lacticiferous.
Seeds few or one testa hard, shiny, endosperm oily.
Distribution of Sapotaceae:
Sapotaceae includes 40 genera and 60 species of primarily tropical trees common in old world.
Economic Importance of Sapotaceae:
Several species of Achras sapota (H. Chiku), Manilkara kauki (H. Khirini), Manilkara hexandra, Mimusops elengi (V. Maulsari), Bassia longifolia yield juicy edible fruits. (Note: the nomenclature of these species is unsettled and authorities on the family are not in accord to the identify or names to be used).
The seeds of Madhuca butyracca produce the vegetable butter called “phulwa” used as cold cream, lip salve leminant and as substitute for ghee and for soap-making.
The latex of Manilkara achras yeilds ‘chickle’ used for making chewing gum.
An aromatic oil is obtained from the flowers of Mimusops elengi and is used in manufacture of perfumes.
3. Gutta percha:
It is obtained from latex of Mimusops, Palaquium gutta and Payena species.
The bark of Bassia longifolia and Mimusops elengi is used in decoction as astringent and emollient and also as a cure for itches.
The wood of Sideroxylon, Chrysophyllum and Bassia afford hard and useful timber.
Common plants of the family:
1. Dichopsis pentaphylla:
lndian butter tree.
2. Madhuca butyracea:
3. Palaquiu gutta:
Common tree in Malaya and South India.
4. Mimusops elengi:
Bulbet-wood tree or the Indian medlar tree. Molsari.
Large handsome tree.
Division of the family and chief genera (After Engler):
Tribe I. Plaquieae:
Lobes of corolla with appendages e.g., Achras, Madhuca, Plaquium etc.
Tribe II. Mimusopeae:
Lobes of corolla with appendages, e.g., Mimusops (Manilkara) and Northea.