The Miracle Berry Family: An ecologically and economically important group of tropical trees.
The pan-tropical tree family, Sapotaceae, contains over 50 genera and about 1200 species.
It is ecologically important contributing significantly to the structure and function of tropical rainforests and providing an important food source to many primates and birds. The family is also economically important, producing quality timber and popular tropical fruit such as the Sapodilla (Manilkara zapota) and star-apple (Chrysophyllum cainito). Several species produce useful latex used in the production of natural chewing gum (Manilkara zapota, Manilkara chicle). Historically one of the most important latex producing plants was Palaquium gutta a South East Asian species that produces gutta percha - a latex used in insulation of deep sea telegraph cables, jewellery and a range of medical products. Today two african species are of particular economic importance Vitellaria paradoxa for the production of Shea butter and Argania spinosa in the production of Argan oil.
The RBGE Sapotacae Research Group undertake monographic, floristic, phylogenetic, biogeographic and conservation research across a wide range of Sapotaceae species and throughout all major tropical zones.
Contact: Peter Wilkie