From Academic Kids

Soapberry family

Litchi chinensis leaves and fruit
Scientific classification

See text

Sapindaceae, also known as the Soapberry family, is a family of plants in the order Sapindales. There are about 140-150 genera with 1400-2000 species.

They are trees, shrubs, herbs and lianas occurring in temperate to tropical regions throughout the world. Many are lactiferous, i.e. they contain milky sap, and many contain mildly toxic saponins (alkaloids with soap-like qualities) in either the foliage and/or the seeds.

The leaves are spirally alternate or (in Acer, Aesculus, and a few other genera) opposite; petiolate, usually without stipules, and mostly compound, either ternate, pinnate or bipinnate, but mostly simple palmate in Acer, and compound palmate in Aesculus and Billia.

The small flowers are unisexual or functionally unisexual. In this case, the female flowers have non-functional stamens. The flowers are aggregated in cymes (rarely solitary), usually bracteate; often with female flowers at the base of the cyme and male at the apex. There are five sepals (sometimes four), separate or joined. The petals number five (sometimes four, or apetalous), usually free but sometimes fused at the base. The stamens usually number eight, arranged in two rings of four stamens, but the number can be from four to ten or more. The filaments are often hairy.

The fruit are fleshy or dry, dehiscent or not; the embryo oily or starchy, with no endosperm. These may be capsules, nuts, berries, drupes, schizocarps or a samara. The seeds have a seedcoat. The embryos are bent or coiled.

The largely temperate genera formerly separated in the families Aceraceae (Acer, Dipteronia) and Hippocastanaceae (Aesculus, Billia) are now included within the Sapindaceae. Their earlier separation was based mainly on their having opposite leaves, not a phylogenetically significant character and not supported by genetic analysis carried out by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group, which showed them to lie fully within the genetic circumscription of the Sapindaceae.

Sapindaceae includes many species of economically valuable tropical fruit, including the Lychee, the Guarana, the Longan, the Rambutan, the Mamoncillo and the Akee.

Selected economically important genera


Note: several of the genera in this list (e.g. Negundo) are treated as synonyms of others by most botanists

de:Seifenbaumgewchse fr:Sapindaceae ja:ムクロジ科


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