There are about 120 species of Sloanea, most of which are found in the New World tropics and Malesia. The genus is absent from Africa, but present in Madagascar. Sloanea species are evergreen trees or shrubs with pubescent buds. Stipules may be large and foliose or small and caducous. The leaves are alternate or clustered at the stem apices, and are simple (rarely pinnate in some immature specimens). The margins are entire or serrate and the venation is pinnate. Flowers may be solitary or racemose, and are axillary. They are typically hermaphrodite, 4- or 5-merous and with long pedicels. Sepals are valvate or imbricate and stamens numerous. The petals may resemble sepals or may be distinct; in some taxa they are absent. The fruit is a prickly capsule with a woody or bony outer layer and a leathery inner layer, which detaches when dry. The fruit is valvate and opens to expose one to many pendulous seeds. There is often a large aril or sarcotesta covering half of the seed (Coode 1983, Tang & Chamlong 2005).
Although Krüssmann (1986) described two species of Sloanea there is nothing to suggest that they were actually in cultivation when he wrote, and so far as can be ascertained, the genus is represented in horticulture only by S. sinensis. There are 14 species in China, however, and it is conceivable that other species may be introduced in the future, although they are usually from rather low altitudes.