Family description

Evergreen or briefly deciduous trees, often with clear or rarely white sap which smells of turpine and turns black on exposure to air.
Leaves simple or compound (pinnate), alternate (spiral), mostly untoothed, stalks usually swollen at base, without stipules.
Flowers small, regular, bi- or uni-sexual, usually in branched clusters (panicles) crowded near the end of the twigs.Calyx 4- or 5-toothed, 4-5 free petals, often curved backwards.Stamens free or rarely fused at base, 1-2 times as many as petals, usually attached under the outside margin of a ring-like disc. Styles 1-3(-5). Ovary usually superior.
Fruit not splitting, leathery or fleshy, often mango shaped with a large, hard stone (seed) in the middle.

General info

Distribution About 75 genera with c. 850 species, throughout the tropical regions of the world. In Malesia mainly in West Malesia.
Ecology A common feature of both moist and dry lowland forests.
Similar May be confused with Burseraceae, Sapindaceae and Meliaceae, but can be distinguished from these families by the absence of stipules, black resin, distinct disc, 1-celled ovary with 1 ovule, drupaceous fruits.
Uses Best known for its fruit trees - mango, cashew, pistachio. The sap of some species can be used as varnish and as potters glaze. The wood is sometimes hard and durable but many people are allergic to the timber so it is not used widely.
Remarks The sap of many of the species in this family can be very poisonous and cause severe allergic reactions in most people. The poisonous constituent is very volatile and it is best not to shelter under Anacardiaceae in heavy rain, or to inhale the smoke from burning wood.

Genera treated

  • Choerospondias
  • Mangifera
  • Spondias


Choerospondias axillaris
Mangifera indica

Spondias dulces