From Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Virtual Herbarium Database
By Noris Ledesma, Curator Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Copyright © 2007 Virtual Herbarium - All rights reserved
I'm sure that visitors to the Garden who have been to the
Garden Café have enjoyed the shade from the giant sapodilla that
shelters the outdoor patio. This particular tree is one of the trees
that was on the site before the Garden was created in 1938.
wonderful sapodilla specimen was grown from a seed, which accounts for
its size, height and fruit quality. However, the Tropical Fruit Program
now has new cultivars which can be kept a more manageable size by
pruning and yet still produce superior fruit. Some may be maintained at
no more than six feet, making them ideal for a small courtyard or
patio. They have very few pest or disease problems.
Spanish arrived in the Yucatan they took note of the sapodilla and how
the Maya esteemed it. They described it as dainty, well tasting and
very delicate. Its appeal quickly spread throughout Southeast Asia.
Each region selected for its specific tastes and preferences. The
result is precocious, dwarf selections with exceptional horticultural
traits and eating quality.
sapodilla is in the family sapotaceae and is also called chico sapote,
chicle and nispero. It is native to the Yucatan in Mexico and other
Central American regions. It is considered evergreen and has a
spectacular pyramidal canopy. Its pollination is by insects and bats.
The fruit are conical to oval with a diameter of 2-4.5 inch; weight
from 100 - 400 g depending on cultivar.
Sapodilla fruit are
soft, sweet and have a beautiful smell when ripe. The fruit has a
flavor that is a combination of peaches, pears, brown sugar, cinnamon
and a little brandy. The sapodilla is delicious to eat out of hand, but
can also be made into a great dessert sauce or mousse. A grafted tree
produces fruit in 3 years. It is often difficult to tell when a
sapodilla is ready to pick. If the skin is brown and the fruit is soft
it is fully mature. To ripen sapodilla fruits, it is important to wash
them with clean water removing the latex and place at room temperature
for few days to soften. The fruit can be used fresh or frozen. For
longer storage, (6 months) pulp should be removed from the fruit and
The 'O-1' is among the best of Central American cultivars; grafted sapodillas include 'Alano', 'OX', and 'Makok'.
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