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Glabrous shrubs or low trees. Flowers often dimorphous and heterostylous, fragrant, in short axillary fascicled spikes, base of inflorescence set with a few small imbricate persistent bracts, bract and 2 bracteoles at apex of pedicel more or less united into a small acutely 3-lobed epicalyx; calyx inconspicuous, i.e. adnate to the cup-shaped truncate flower-axis; petals (3-)4-5(-6), fused in the lower half or 2/3 into a tube, with a tuft of hairs inside behind each anther, free lobes revolute; stamens as many as petals, epipetalous, the slender filaments adnate to the corolla tube for nearly their full length, anthers 2-celled; disc epigynous, annular, fleshy; upper half of the ovary superior, included by the disc, lower half within the flower-axis, 3-locular below, 1-locular above, style slender, in the dolichostylous form as long as the corolla tube and with a well developed stigma, in the brachystylous form half as long, the stigma then a little below the anthers and smaller. Drupe subtended by the persistent epicalyx, crowned by the remains of the calyx and disc, epicarp originating from the somewhat accrescent flower-axis, thin, fleshy, endocarp pergamentaceous to crustaceous, striate lengthwise; seed 1, embryo at apex of the fleshy endosperm which contains fatty substances, and little or no amylum.


Asia-Tropical, C and S America present, Surinam present, tropical Asia present
23 species, 4 in tropical Asia/Malesia, the others in C and S America, 1 of these occurs in Surinam.

Wood observation species

S. brasiliensis, S. californica, S. schreberi


Vessels diffuse or in a faint oblique or radial pattern, solitary (12-50%) and in radial or tangential multiples of 2-3, round, oval or angular, 17-75 per sq. mm, diameter 42-72 μm. Vessel-member length: 82-190 μm. Perforations simple. Intervascular pits alternate, round to polygonal, 2-4 μm. Vessel-ray and vessel-parenchyma pits of two types: half-bordered diffuse to alternate (similar in shape and size to inter-vessel pits) and large and simple. Vessel-members storied together with the paratracheal axial parenchyma cells. Tyloses infrequently present in some specimens. Vascular tracheids associated with vessel multiples, sometimes integrating with narrow vessel elements, common.
Rays homogeneous, rarely tending to Kribs' heterogeneous type III, 1-3 seriate, 5-9 per mm, up to 322 μm high. Perforated ray cells infrequently present.
Parenchyma abundant, paratracheal, in an aliform-confluent pattern or in continuous paratracheal bands of 2-7 cells wide, storied, partly scanty apotracheal, diffuse and in small aggregates, mostly fusiform, rarely in strands of 2-3 cells.
Ground tissue composed of thick-walled libriform fibres, lumen 11-16 μm. Minutely bordered pits with slit-like apertures mainly confined to the radial walls. Length: 410-695 μm.


Root-parasitism is known only in S. schreberi, but may be expected in other species as well.