We present the first cladistic study of the largely tropical family Sapotaceae based on both morphological and molecular data. The data were analyzed with standard parsimony and parsimony jackknife algorithms using equally and successive weighted characters. Sapotaceae are confirmed to constitute two main evolutionary lineages corresponding to the tribes Isonandreae-Mimusopeae-Sideroxyleae and Chrysophylleae-Omphalocarpeae. The Sideroxyleae are monophyletic, Isonandreae are polyphyletic as presently circumscribed, and as suggested by the analyses, the subtribe Mimusopeae-Mimusopinae has evolved within the Mimusopeae-Manilkarinae, which hence is also paraphyletic. Generic limits must be altered within Sideroxyleae with the current members Argania, Nesoluma and Sideroxylon. Argania cannot be maintained at a generic level unless a narrower generic concept is adopted for Sideroxylon. Nesoluma cannot be upheld in a narrow or broad generic concept of Sideroxylon. The large tribe Chrysophylleae circumscribes genera such as Chrysophyllum, Pouteria, Synsepalum, and Xantolis, but the tribe is monophyletic only if the taxa from Omphalocarpeae are also included. Neither Chrysophyllum nor Pouteria are monophyletic in their current definitions. The results indicate that the African taxa of Pouteria are monophyletic and distinguishable from the South American taxa. Resurrection of Planchonella, corresponding to Pouteria section Oligotheca, is proposed. The African genera Synsepalum and Englerophytum form a monophyletic group, but their generic limits are uncertain. Classification of the Asian genus Xantolis is particularly interesting. Morphology alone is indecisive regarding Xantolis relationships, the combined unweighted data of molecules and morphology indicates a sister position to Isonandreae-Mimusopeae-Sideroxyleae, whereas molecular data alone, as well as successive weighted combined data point to a sister position to Chrysophylleae-Omphalocarpeae. An amended subfamily classification is proposed corresponding to the monophyletic groups: Sarcospermatoideae (Sarcosperma), Sapotoideae (Isonandreae-Mimusopeae-Sideroxyleae) and Chrysophylloideae (Chrysophylleae-Omphalocarpeae), where Sapotoideae circumscribes the tribes Sapoteae and Sideroxyleae as well as two or three as yet unnamed lineages. Morphological characters are often highly homoplasious and unambiguous synapomorphies cannot be identified for subfamilies or tribes, which we believe are the reason for the variations seen between different classifications of Sapotaceae.
© The Willi Hennig Society 2005.