Manilkara zapota, commonly known as the sapodilla, is a long-lived, evergreen tree native to southern Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. An example natural occurrence is in coastal Yucatán in the Petenes mangroves ecoregion, where it is a subdominant plant species. It was introduced to the Philippines during Spanish colonization. It is grown in huge quantities in India, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Mexico.
Sapodilla can grow to more than 30 m (98 ft) tall with an average trunk diameter of 1.5 m (4.9 ft). The average height of cultivated specimens, however, is usually between 9 and 15 m (30 and 49 ft) with a trunk diameter not exceeding 50 cm (20 in). It is wind-resistant and the bark is rich in a white, gummy latex called chicle. The ornamental leaves are medium green and glossy. They are alternate, elliptic to ovate, 7–15 cm long, with an entire margin. The white flowers are inconspicuous and bell-like, with a six-lobed corolla. An unripe fruit has a firm outer skin and when picked, releases white chicle from its stem. A fully ripened fruit has saggy skin and does not release chicle when picked.
The fruit is a large ellipsoid berry, normally 4–8 but up to 15 cm in diameter, containing two to five seeds. Inside, its flesh ranges from a pale yellow to an earthy brown color with a grainy texture akin to that of a well-ripened pear. The seeds are black and resemble beans, with a hook at one end that can catch in the throat if swallowed.
The fruit has an exceptionally sweet, malty flavor. The unripe fruit is hard to the touch and contains high amounts of saponin, which has astringent properties similar to tannin, drying out the mouth.
The trees can only survive in warm, typically tropical environments, dying easily if the temperature drops below freezing. From germination, the sapodilla tree will usually take anywhere from five to eight years to bear fruit. The sapodilla trees yield fruit twice a year, though flowering may continue year round.
Sapodilla is known as mispel in the Virgin Islands and Dutch Caribbean, zapote in Honduras, and Cuba, níspero in Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Colombia and Venezuela, dilly in the Bahamas, naseberry in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean, sapoti in Brazil (Portuguese pronunciation: [sɐpuˈtʃi]) and Haiti, chico in the Philippines and chicosapote or chicozapote in Mexico, Hawaii, southern California and southern Florida.
It is known as chikoo (chiku, "चीकू,") in Northern India ("چیکو" chiku) and sapota in some parts of India ("సపోటా" in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka), sapathilla or rata-mi in Sri Lanka, sobeda/sofeda (সবেদা or সফেদা) in eastern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, sabudheli ("ސަބުދެލި") in Maldives, sawo in Indonesia and saos in West Sumatra, hồng xiêm (lit. Siamese persimmon), lồng mứt or xa pô chê in Vietnam, lamoot (ละมุด) in Thailand, Laos and (ល្មុត) in Cambodia.
It is called ciku in standard Malay and sawo nilo in Kelantanese Malay. In Chinese, the name is mistakenly translated by many people roughly as "ginseng fruit" (人參果), though this is also the name used for the pepino, an unrelated fruit; it should instead be "heart fruit" (人心果) because it is shaped like the heart.
- Achradelpha mammosa (L.) O.F.Cook
- Achras breviloba (Gilly) Lundell
- Achras calderonii (Gilly) Lundell
- Achras conzattii (Gilly) Lundell
- Achras coriacea Lundell
- Achras cosaguico La Llave
- Achras dactylina Lundell
- Achras gaumeri (Gilly) Lundell
- Achras latiloba Lundell
- Achras lobulata (Lundell) Lundell
- Achras lucuma Blanco
- Achras mammosa L. nom. illeg.
- Achras meridionalis (Gilly) Lundell
- Achras occidentalis Cels ex Ten.
- Achras paludosa Lundell
- Achras petenensis (Lundell) Lundell
- Achras rojasii (Gilly) Lundell
- Achras sapatilla J.Paul & W.Arnold
- Achras sapota f. asperma M.Gómez
- Achras sapota var. candollei Pierre
- Achras sapota var. globosa Stokes
- Achras sapota var. lobata (A.DC.) Pierre
- Achras sapota var. ovalis Stokes
- Achras sapota var. pedicellaris Pierre
- Achras sapota var. sphaerica (A.DC.) Pierre
- Achras striata (Gilly) Lundell
- Achras tabogaensis (Gilly) Lundell
- Achras tainteriana Lundell
- Achras tchicomame Perr.
- Achras verrucosa Stokes
- Achras zapota L.
- Achras zapota var. major Jacq.
- Achras zapota var. zapotilla Jacq.
- Achras zapotilla (Jacq.) Nutt.
- Calocarpum mammosum (L.) Pierre
- Calospermum mammosum (L.) Pierre
- Gambeya mammosa (L.) Pierre
- Lucuma mammosa (L.) C.F.Gaertn.
- Lucuma zapota (L.) Urb.
- Lucuma zapota var. anguai Rojas Acosta
- Manilkara achras (Mill.) Fosberg
- Manilkara breviloba Gilly
- Manilkara calderonii Gilly
- Manilkara conzattii Gilly
- Manilkara gaumeri Gilly
- Manilkara grisebachii (Pierre) Dubard
- Manilkara meridionalis Gilly
- Manilkara rojasii Gilly
- Manilkara sapota (L.) Van Royen
- Manilkara striata Gilly
- Manilkara tabogaensis Gilly
- Manilkara zapotilla (Jacq.) Gilly
- Manilkariopsis lobulata Lundell
- Manilkariopsis meridionalis (Gilly) Lundell
- Manilkariopsis petenensis Lundell
- Manilkariopsis rojasii (Gilly) Lundell
- Manilkariopsis striata (Gilly) Lundell
- Manilkariopsis tabogaensis (Gilly) Lundell
- Mimusops grisebachii Pierre
- Nispero achras (Mill.) Aubrév.
- Pouteria mammosa (L.) Cronquist
- Sapota achras Mill.
- Sapota zapotilla (Jacq.) Coville ex Safford
- Vitellaria mammosa (L.) Radlk.
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- CRFG Publications: Sapodilla