From the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia, inc.
By A. Oram

Opposite Seasons: Summer is during the months of December, January and February. Autumn is March, April, May; winter is June, July, August; Spring is September, October and November.

Achras sapote, Manilkara zapota

Sapodilla varieties
Fig. 1
15 Sapodilla varieties.

Common name: Sapodilla, Chico, Sapota, Chiku, Dilly.

Native to: Central America and West Indies.

Habit of growth: Upright, pyramidal tree, long lived, slow growing.

Height: 5 - 25 m.

Leaves: Glossy, alternate and spirally clustered at the tips.

Flowers: Inconspicuous, small white flowers, borne singly in axils of leaves. Several flushes per year.

Fruit: Round to egg-shaped fruit, vary from 2 - 4 inches in diameter. The skin is thin, brown and scruffy, the flesh is light brown to reddish brown. The flesh can be smooth or granulation texture. The flesh is sweet, juicy and fragrant. The seeds are black, flat, hard, shiny, with a hook. [Dangerous if swallowed]. They vary in number from zero to twelve and are easily removed from the flesh.

Climate: Young trees can be killed or injured at temperatures of 30-32°F [-1-0°C] large trees can withstand temperatures of 26-28°F [-3.33 to -2.2°C]. Protect young trees from the cold by wrapping stems with hessian. The sapodilla can stand humid or relatively dry atmospheres. It is quite resistant to strong winds. The tree is highly drought-resistant and can stand salt spray and quite a degree of soil salinity [ECE 14.20].

Soils: Best in well-drained soils but adapts to most soils. [6-7 pH].

Pests: Scale, peach moths, mealy bugs, spotting bug.

Uses: Eaten fresh, made into sherbets, ice cream, jam, syrup, dilly rice and custards. In Philippines it is fermented into vinegar. The tree was tapped for latex, which was used in the making of chewing gum. It is tapped every 3 years and yields 2.7 to 3.6 kgs of gum.


Flowering time: November to February.

Harvest: September to November.

Maturity is difficult to determine. Some methods are:

1. Scratching a small part of the skin to see underlaying flesh. If the underlying flesh is green it is still immature, but if it is a reddish colour it can be picked and it will ripen in a few days.
2. Wait until a few of the fruit fall and then pick the largest fruit from the tree.
3. On some varieties, the needle at the end of the fruit will drop off when mature.
4. If you have time, you can also feel every fruit to see if they are slightly soft to touch. It needs to be done daily or they drop and are ruined with the fall.

This is perhaps the most difficult problem with the sapodilla. I like to scratch the skin of the fruit and then pick the biggest fruit. They ripen in 3-4 days. The next problem is when to eat them. They have to be soft to touch. The longer they are left to soften, the stronger and sweeter the flavour and the flesh colour becomes darker. The flavour is enhanced by putting the fruit in the fridge to cool before eating. The skin can be eaten and in fact is richer in nutritive value than the pulp. I haven't eaten them this way yet, but I think I would like to wash them to remove the scruff layer of the fruit, before eating. The fruits are a good source of calcium, phosphorus and iron.

The flowering in sapodilla is much like the avocado and comes in distinct phases. Piatos and Knight [1975] found that the sapodilla is self-incompatible, requiring cross pollination. There is also a problem with non-viability and deficiency of pollen.

Some single trees may only produce a few fruit a year.

I tried to do a comparison on the different fruits. It was difficult to do so as they tasted and looked different at different maturity times. The flesh became darker if I left it a few days longer and the taste was stronger as well. Putting the flesh in the fridge to cool also made the fruit taste different, in fact better. Another factor which surprised me was that some fruit changed shape from year to year. Cultivars H.C. Tan and Tropical were two varieties that changed shape. I have read that in India some cultivars have round and elliptical fruits on the same tree at the same time.

NameOriginSeedsAv-Wt.SkinFleshTaste and Texture
MarkokThailand 470-100 gmslight brownmid-brown sweet, juicy, slightly grainy
Rodgers275-100 gms light brown light brownsweet, juicy, slightly grainy, bland [immature fruit]
C54Malaysia3 100 gmsmid-brownlight brown firm, sweet, juicy, slightly grainy
Kai HahnThailand6 50-100gms mid-brownmid-brownpearish, strong, juicy, sweet, grainy
KrasueyThailand2-475-100 gmslight brownmid-brown juicy, very sweet, syrupy, grainy
TropicalSingapore175-100 gmslight brown mid-brownjuicy, very sweet
TikalFlorida2100 gmslight brownlight brownsemi-sweet, juicy, smooth
PinarisPhilippines5100-120 gmsmid-brownmid-brownjuicy, bland to mid-sweet,slightly grainy
Brown SugarFlorida7100-150 gms light white brownskinlight brownjuicy, mid-sweet, grainy
H.C.TanSingapore2-3125-150 gmsmid-dark brownlight brownbland smooth
LamaoLamao3150 gmslight brownlight brownsweet, juicy, strong flavour, smooth
MeadFlorida7150 gmlight brownlight brownjuicy, sweet, slightly grainy
Sawo ManilaIndonesia2-4100-150 gmslight brownlight to dark brownjuicy, sweet, slightly grainy
PonderosaPhilippines5175-250 gmslight brown light to mid-brownsweet, juicy, smooth, really nice
ProlificFlorida3200-250 gmslight brownlight brownfirm, pearish, sweet, slightly grainy
Kulbaba4250 gmslight brownlight brownsmooth,sweet, juicy
MossmanAustralia6-875-125 gmsdark brownlight brownsweet, juicy
C5575 gmslight brownlight brownsweet, juicy
B.K.110 50-100 gmsmid-brown light brownjuicy, sweet, slightly grainy

Profile and seed profile of 19 Sapodilla cultivars

Fig. 2

Profile and seed profile of 19 Sapodilla cultivars

Back to Sapodilla Page



Oram, A. "Sapodilla." Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia. Sept. 1996. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.


Fig. 1 Oram, Ann. "Sapodillas." N.d. Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 2 Oram, Ann. "Profile and seed profile of 19 Sapodilla cultivals." N.d. Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia. 

Published 29 Apr. 2015 LR. Reviewed 8 Feb. 2016 KJ
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