|Sapodilla - Manilkara zapota (L.) P. Royen
Pinkish new growth
Fruit and flowers emerging
Sapota (M. zapota) at Madhurawada in Visakhapatnam
Close up of fruit
Protruding hooks on the seed
Chicle, once used for chewing gum, oozes from the pod of a Sapodilla tree. From Canal Zone, Panama
Sari-clad woman in Mysore balancing a basket of chikku (or sapota; a type of fruit) on her head.
The oval shaped honey taste Sapota fruits (a unique Sapota of this region) are sold on a Street
Manilkara zapota (L.) P. Royen
Baramasi (Bengal and Bihar, India); buah chiku (Malaya); chicle (Mexico); chico (Philippines, Guatemala, Mexico); chicozapote (Guatemala, Mexico, Venezuela); chikoo (India); chiku (Malaya, India); dilly (Bahamas; British West Indies); korob (Costa Rica); mespil (Virgin Islands); mispel, mispu (Netherlands Antilles, Surinam); muy (Guatemala); muyozapot (El Salvador); naseberry (Jamaica; British West Indies); neeseberry (British West Indies; nispero (Puerto Rico, Central America, Venezuela); nispero quitense (Ecuador); sapodilla plum (India); sapota (India); sapotí (Brazil); sapotille (French West Indies); tree potato (India); Ya (Guatemala; Yucatan); zapota (Venezuela); zapote (Cuba); zapote chico (Mexico; Guatemala); zapote morado (Belize); zapotillo (Mexico) 2
Manilkara achras, Achras sapota, A. zapota, Sapota achras
Mamey sapote, canistel, caimito, lucumo, green sapote, abiu, satin leaf
Mexico (Yucatan Peninsula) and Central America
The United States, Caribbean, Central and South America, Asia, India, Sri Lanka, The Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa 1
USDA hardiness zones
Fresh fruit; landscape specimen
60-100 ft (18-30m)
Pyramidal to rounded canopy; dense; coarse (Fig. 18)
Branches don’t droop; showy; typically one trunk; thorns 6; wood hard and termite resistant; bark is rich in a white, gummy latex called chicle
Trees should be kept at a maximum of about 12 to 15 feet (3.7 to 4.6 m) for ease of harvest
Evergreen; 2-5in (5-13cm) long; stiff, pointed; clustered at end of shoots; pinkish new growth (Fig. 3) then light to dark green 1
Small, bisexual, off-white, bell-shaped; borne singly or in clusters in leaf axils near the tips of branches; Nov. to Feb.
Berry with brown scruffy skin; round/oval or conical; 2-4 in (5-10cm); sweet to very sweet; seeds 1-12; fruits mature 4 to 6 months after flowering 1
USDA Nutrient Content pdf
May to September with the peak of the crop in June and July; some all year
Tolerant of most soils; grow best in well-drained, light soils; adapted to Florida calcareous soils
Mature trees are tolerant of drought conditions
Moderately tolerant of flood
Aerosol salt tolerance
Wind resistant;, enduring hurricanes very well 6
Freezes about 28°F (-2°C); young trees 30°F (-1°C)
Damage potential high; can form large surface roots
Invasive potential *
Was assessed as invasive in south and central Florida by IFAS Invasive Plants Working Group and is not recommended by IFAS for planting
The seed kernel (50% of the whole seed) contains 1% saponin and 0.08% of a bitter principle, sapotinin. Ingestion of more than 6 seeds causes abdominal pain and vomiting.2
Scale insects; no major disease
The seeds with their hooks represent a chocking hazard (Fig. 22)
Sapodilla Growing in the Florida Landscape from the University of Florida pdf 8 pages
Sapodilla from Julia Morton's Book fruits of Warm Climates
Manilkara zapota: Sapodilla from the University of Florida pdf
Sapodilla from the California Rare Rare Fruit Growers Inc.
The Sapodilla from W. Popenoe's book Manual of Tropical and Subtropical Fruits
The sapodilla is believed native to Yucatan and possibly other nearby parts of southern Mexico, as well as northern Belize and Northeastern Guatemala. In this region there were once 100,000,000 trees. The species is found in forests throughout Central America where it has apparently been cultivated since ancient times. 2
A superb shade, street (where falling fruit will not be a problem), or fruit tree, Sopadilla reaches a height of 45 feet with a 40-foot spread. The smooth, dark, and glossy, sixinch- long evergreen leaves are clustered at the tips of twigs and the small, cream-colored solitary flowers appear in the leaf axils throughout the year. The four-inch-wide, scurfy brown fruits have a juicy, sweet, yellow-brown flesh and ripen to softness in spring and summer. The flower-to-fruit period is about ten months. The bark and branches, when injured, bleed a white latex which is the source of chicle, the original base for chewing gum. The trunk on older specimens is flaky and quite attractive, and flares at the base into numerous surface roots. 6
Notice the imbricated calyx, perhaps in two series, the white corolla, and the single style. Reddish hairs are visible on the calyx and some of the other surfaces in the background. The front view of the chicle flower in the right photo reveals 6 corolla lobes and additional appendages. The whorl of functional stamens attached to the corolla opposite the corolla lobes is also visible. 4
The sapodilla (M. sapota) is native to Central America, but its unique appeal carried it centuries ago to Southeast Asia, where it has undergone a wonderful transformation. The Maya described it as dainty, fragrant and well tasting - a delicate fruit indeed. Sapodilla is delicious to eat out of hand, and can also be made into a great dessert sauce or mousse. The texture when eaten fresh should be that of a good ripe pear. Elite selections from Asia and the Americas can be eaten skin and all. 3
Superior fruit cultivars are available: 'Prolific', 'Brown Sugar', 'Modello', and 'Russel'. Manilkara bahamensis, the Wild Dilly, is native to the Florida Keys and has less desirable fruit. 6
Fruit picked at optimum maturity usually ripen in 4 to 10 days. If you don't know the time of fruit maturity, you may wait until some fruit drop and then begin to harvest those of similar size. Other indicators of maturity are fruit size, loss of peel scurfiness, and a change in skin color from brown to amber. 3 Rub the scurf to see if it loosens readily and then scratch the fruit to make sure the skin is not green beneath the scurf. If the skin is brown and the fruit separates from the stem easily without leaking of the latex, it is fully mature though still hard and must be kept at room temperature for a few days to soften. 2
"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." 4
Seedling trees usually begin bearing in 6 to 7 years or more. Grafted trees may begin to bear in the second to fourth year after planting. After 10 years, a good cultivar may bear 150 to 400 pounds (45-180 kg) of fruit per year. 1
Isolated sapodilla trees may not be productive because some sapodilla cultivars are self-incompatible. In selfincompatible cultivars, the flowers require cross-pollination by another sapodilla seedling or variety in order to produce Sapodilla Growing in the Florida Home Landscape 3 fruit. Other varieties may not require cross-pollination but produce more fruit when cross-pollinated. 1
Seeds should not be used for producing new trees because it takes a long time for trees to begin production and there is also a lot of variability among seedling trees. Marcottage (air layering) has not been an effective propagation method. Side veneer and cleft grafting on to seedling sapodilla rootstock are the most common grafting methods. Chip budding can also be used. Scions or bud sticks are chosen from young terminal shoots. Cover the grafted scions completely with grafting tape. The best time to graft is late summer and early fall. 1
Top working undesirable mature sapodilla trees may be accomplished by cutting trees back to a 3-ft-height stump, white washing the entire stump and then veneer-grafting several new shoots when they reach ½ inch (13 mm) in diameter or larger. 1
Sapodilla Clonal Propagation from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia
A successful Method for Propagating Sapodilla Trees (1967) from the Florida State Horticultural Society
The development of a strong limb framework is important to allow sapodilla trees to carry large crops of fruit without limb breakage. If the tree is leggy and lacks lower branches, remove part of the top to induce lateral bud break on the lower trunk. In addition, shoot tip removal (1 to 2 inches) of new shoots of about 3 feet in length, once or twice between spring and summer will force more branching and make the tree more compact. Remove any limbs that have a narrow crotch angle because these may break under heavy fruit loads. 1
As trees mature, most of the pruning is done to control tree height and width and to remove damaged or dead wood. Trees should be kept at a maximum of about 12 to 15 feet (3.7 to 4.6 m). If the canopy becomes too dense, removing some inner branches will help in air circulation and light penetration. 1
After planting, when new growth begins, apply 1/4 lb (113 g) of a young tree fertilizer such as a 6-6-6-2 (%nitrogen-% phosphate-% potash-% magnesium) with minor elements with 20 to 30% of the nitrogen from organic sources. Repeat this every 6 to 8 weeks for the first year, then gradually increase the amount of fertilizer to 0.5, 0.75, 1.0 lb (227 g, 341 g, 454 g) as the tree grows. Use 4 to 6 minor element (nutritional) foliar sprays per year from April to September. For mature trees, 2.5 to 5.0 lbs of fertilizer per application 2 to 3 times per year is recommended. 1
Young sapodilla trees have been observed to defoliate or decline due to lack of water; therefore young trees should be watered periodically during dry periods. Mature sapodilla trees are tolerant of dry soil conditions. However, for optimum fruit production and quality, periodic irrigation during long dry periods is recommended from flowering through harvest. 1
Florida Crop/Pest Management Profile: Mamey Sapote and Sapodilla from the University of Florida pdf 6 pages
Sapote Fruit Fly, Serpentine Fruit Fly, Anastrepha serpentina from the University of Florida pdf
The ripe sapodilla, unchilled or preferably chilled, is merely cut in half and the flesh is eaten with a spoon. It is an ideal dessert fruit as the skin, which is not eaten, remains firm enough to serve as a "shell". 2
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.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. 7
Sapodilla Recipes from the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Virtual Herbarium Database
Sapodilla – a Delicious Dehydrated Product from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia
Sapodilla (Chiku) as a delicate dessert from Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Medicinal Uses **
Because of the tannin content, young fruits are boiled and the decoction taken to stop diarrhea. An infusion of the young fruits and the flowers is drunk to relieve pulmonary complaints. A decoction of old, yellowed leaves is drunk as a remedy for coughs, colds and diarrhea. A "tea" of the bark is regarded as a febrifuge and is said to halt diarrhea and dysentery. The crushed seeds have a diuretic action and are claimed to expel bladder and kidney stones. A fluid extract of the crushed seeds is employed in Yucatan as a sedative and soporific. A combined decoction of sapodilla and chayote leaves is sweetened and taken daily to lower blood pressure. A paste of the seeds is applied on stings and bites from venomous animals. The latex is used in the tropics as a crude filling for tooth cavities. 2
A major by-product of the sapodilla tree is the gummy latex called "chicle" (Fig. 23), containing
15% rubber and 38% resin. For many years it has been employed as the chief ingredient in chewing gum but it is now in some degree diluted or replaced by latex from other species and by synthetic gums. 2
Note (Fig. 22)
Care must be taken not to swallow a seed, as the protruding hook might cause lodging in the throat. 2
Species distribution map
Sapodilla from the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Virtual Herbarium Database
Sapodilla from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia
Sapodilla in Australia from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia
Manilkara zapota from the Agroforestry Database
Sapodilla from the Tropical Fruit Growers of South Florida
Sapodilla from the Tropical Fruit News magazine
Sapodilla from the Fruit Crops Research and Development Center, Horana, Sri Lanka pdf 42 pages
Sapodilla Botanical Art
List of Growers and Vendors
1 Balerdi, Carlos F., Crane, Jonathan H. and Maguire, Ian. "Sapodilla Growing in the Florida Home Landscape." edis.ifas.ufl.edu. This document is Fact Sheet HS-1, one of a series of the Horticultural Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication date, May 1973. Reviewed Nov. 2016. Web. 4 July 2017.
2 Morton, J. "Sapodilla." hort.purdue.edu. Fruits of warm climates, p. 393-398. 1987. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.
3 Ledesma, Noris. "Sapodilla (Chiku) as a delicate dessert." fairchildgarden.org. Miami Herald. 5 May 2013. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.
4 Oram, A. "Sapodilla." rfcarchives.org.au. Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia. Sept. 1996. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.
5 Carr, Gerald, D. "Sapotaceae, Manilkara zapota, chicle." botany.hawaii.edu. University of Hawaii, Botany Department, Manoa Campus Plants. Web. 1 May 2015.
6 Guilman, Edward F. and Watson, dennis G. "Manilkara zapota: Sapodilla." edis.ifas.ufl.edu. This document is ENH-564, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication date November 1993. Reviewed June 2016. Web. 4 July 2017.
7 Ledesma, Noris. "Sapodilla." virtualherbarium.org. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Virtual Herbarium Database. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 1,3,22 Robitaille, Liette. "Sapodilla 'Alamo' Series." 2015. growables.org. JPG file.
Fig. 2 Greb, Peggy. Sapodilla cross section. 2011. commons.wikimedia.org. United States Department of Agriculture. Web. 28 Apr. 2015. commons.wikimedia.org. Guntur City, India. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 4,18,19,21 SelecTree. Reimer, J. and Stubler, C. Manilkara zapota Tree Record. selectree.calpoly.edu. 1995-2015. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 5,6 Vinayaraj. Manilkara zapota. 2014. commons.wikimedia.org. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 7,8 Carr, Gerald, D. Manilkara zapota Sapotaceae. botany.hawaii.edu. University of Hawaii, Botany Department, Manoa Campus Plants. Web. 1 May 2015.
Fig. 9 Adityamadhav83. Sapota (manilkara zapota). 2012. commons.wikimedia.org. Madhurawada in Visakhapatnam. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 10 Tu7uh. Manilkara zapota. 2013. commons.wikimedia.org. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 11,12,13,14,15,16 Ghosh, Asit K. Manilkara zapota (L.). N.d. florida.plantatlas.usf.edu. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants. Institute for Systematic botany. University of South Florida, Tampa. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.
Fig. 17 Manilkara zapota, Manilkara achras, Achras sapota. N.d. toptropicals.com. Web. 1 May 2015.
Fig. 20 Kwan. Manilkara zapota (Sapodilla, Chiku). 2008. natureloveyou.sg. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 23 Culbert, Dick. Chicle, once used for chewing gum, oozes from the pod of a Sapodilla tree. From Canal Zone, Panama. 2008. commons.wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY 2.0). From Gibsons, B.C., Canada. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.
Fig. 24 Wen-Yan King. Sari-clad woman in Mysore balancing a basket of chikku (or sapota; a type of fruit) on her head. 2007. flickr.com. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 25 Gpics. The oval shaped honey taste Sapota fruits (a unique Sapota of this region) are sold on a Street. 2007. flickr.com. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.
Fig. 26 Wunderlin, R. P., B. F. Hansen, A. R. Franck, and F. B. Essig. Species Distribution Map: Manilkara zapota L.. N.d. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants. [S. M. Landry and K. N. Campbell (application development), USF Water Institute.] Institute for Systematic Botany, University of South Florida, Tampa. florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=214. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.
* UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas
** Information provided is not intended to be used as a guide for treatment of medical conditions.
Published 28 Apr. 2015 LR. Last update 4 July 2017 LR