imbricate sepals, single style




pronounced: sap-oh-TAY-see-eye

the sapote family


Sapote, also spelled Zapote, is the name for a soft edible fruit, from the Nahuatl (the Aztec language) word tzapotl. The name is incorporated into the common names of several central American and northern South American fruit-bearing plants, not all of which are members of the Sapotaceae family. It is also used as the specifics for the sapote, Pouteria sapota, and for the sapodilla, Manilkara zapota. This is a pantropical family, with the taxonomy of some members controversial. They are trees or shrubs mostly with milky sap, which may not always be evident in the tropical dry season. The leaves are spirally arranged, petiolate, simple and entire; the stipules are absent or minute. The flowers are bisexual, radially symmetrical, solitary or in small clusters, often axillary or in the nodes of leaf scars. The calyx may be a single whorl of 4 – 6 free or partly united, imbricate sepals, or there may be 2 whorls, each of 4 free sepals, with the outer whorl valvate. The flower has its petals more-or-less united, and 4 – 8 stamens. If staminodes are present, they are often well-developed. There are up to 8 carpels united to form a superior multilocular ovary; there is a single style, its stigma capitate or minutely lobed. The fruit is usually a fleshy indehiscent berry.


Photograph © Donald Simpson