Article from the Tropical Fruit News magazine of the Miami Rare Fruit Council International
by Gene Joyner

The Mammee Apple
How We Love Ya...

The mammee apple, Mammea americana, is a large evergreen tree that will often reach 50 feet of more. It is a native of Tropical America and parts of the West Indies. The leaves are very large and a glossy green, somewhat resembling those of the magnolia. The mammee apple makes a very handsome shade tree, or even a street tree.

The trees are usually propagated by seed and here in Florida are rather slow growing. Seedlings generally will take from four to seven years before they even reach size where they can start to produce flowers. Once they finally begin to flower only male flowers may be produced for the first year or two; later, as the tree becomes more mature it will then start to produce both male and female flowers.

The fragrant white flowers may be up to two inches in diameter and are produced over a prolonged period, so that the season for the fruit will extend for a long period of time, much like the sapodilla. Fruits usually are from four to eight inches in diameter, generally somewhat oval in shape with a rusty brown skin much like a sapodilla, mamey sapote or cantaloupe. The inside usually has orange pulp which has a apricot flavor. Generally, the flesh of the mammee apple is firmer than that of the sapodilla or mamey sapote. The fruit is used in preserved products or pies.

It has been reported that due to an element found in the fruit, excessive consumption of the mammee apple may lead to a condition that can cause a loss offinger nails and a loss of hair. Here in Florida that is not likely to be a problem as we don't have the opportunity to consume large numbers offruit at one time.

Trees are very hard to find in local nurseries but are well worth searching for. The mammee apple should be planted in well drained soil -- it will tolerate a very brief bout of flooding but does not like 'wet feet' for a prolonged period of time. To speed up the growth rate, young trees should be fertilized every other month with a good quality fruit tree fertilizer for the first year or two, thereafter three or four times a year.

Trees, when they are small, are very sensitive to cold weather and should be protected from frost or freezes. As the trees become a little more mature, they can withstand increased amounts of cold. Trees in the Palm Beach county area have withstood really low temperatures-vas low as 26°F. for a brief period oftime--with only minor twig and leaf damage in the upper part of the trees.

 There are usually very few pests or diseases that affect the mammee apple in South Florida and spraying is usually not required.

If you are looking for varieties of mammee apple that produce really high-quality fruit, probably the most famous tree in our area is the one growing at Fairchild Tropical garden in Miami. Improved cultivars in Central and south America have been reported by RFCI members; these are not generally available. Most nurseries that sell trees simply sell seedlings, and so if you want a grafted tree, you have to go out and locate a mature, bearing tree, and do your own grafting. 

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Joyner, Gene. "The Mammee Apple, How We Love You..." Tropical Fruit News -Jan. 1994 Page 12. Web. 17 Jan. 2017.

Published 17 Jan. 2017 LR
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