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(sapodilla), a family of dicotyledonous plants including mostly evergreen trees and shrubs. The leaves are usually alternate, entire, and leathery. The generally small flowers are regular and most often bisexual; they are solitary or fascicled. There are four, five, or eight sepals in two whorls or only five sepals in one whorl; the sepals are usually slightly fused at the base. The petals, which are concresced below, alternate with the sepals and sometimes form two whorls. The fruit—a berry—is leathery and dehiscent in some species. The sapodilla family is characterized by the presence of latex vessels in the bark, phloem, medulla, leaves, and fruits. Cauliflory is observed in many species.
There are about 60 genera of sapodilla, embracing 800 species and distributed mainly in the tropics of both hemispheres. In the USSR only fossil forms are known. Species containing gutta-percha (genera Palaquim and Payena) and balata (Mimusops bidentata, or M. balata) have great practical significance. The fruits of many species, including those of the genera Achras and Lucuma, are edible, as are the fleshy corollas of Madhuca logifolia, which contain up to 60 percent sugar. The seeds of some species, such as those of the genera Butyrospermum, Mimusops, and Argania, yield cooking and industrial oils. Many species, including Argania sideroxylon, are the source of valuable lumber.
M. E. KIRPICHNIKOV