What Is Sapodilla Fruit: How To Grow A Sapodilla Tree


Like exotic fruits? Then why not consider growing a sapodilla tree (Manilkara zapota). As long as you care for sapodilla trees as suggested, you’ll find yourself benefiting from its healthy, tasty fruits in no time. Let’s learn more about how to grow a sapodilla tree.

What is Sapodilla Fruit?

The answer to, “What is sapodilla fruit?” is quite simply a delicious tropical fruit ranking amongst the likes of mango, banana, and jackfruit. Sapodilla answers to quite a few monikers such as Chico, Chico sapote, Sapota, Zapote chico, Zapotillo, Chicle, Sapodilla plum and Naseberry. You may recognize the name ‘Chicle,’ which refers to the latex excreted by the sapodilla fruit and is used as a chewing gum base.

Growing sapodillas are thought to have originated in the Yucatan peninsula and nearby southern regions of Mexico, Belize and into northeastern Guatemala. It was then introduced and since cultivated throughout the tropical Americas, West Indies and the southern part of Florida.

Information Regarding Growing Sapodillas

Growing sapodillas are not strictly tropical and adult sapodilla fruit trees can survive temperatures of 26-28 F. (-2,-3 C.), for a short period of time. Sapling trees are more likely to sustain major damage or even die at 30 F. (-1 C.). Growing sapodillas are not particular when it comes to water requirements. They may do equally well in arid or humid environments, although more severe conditions may result in lack of fruiting.

Despite its temperature tolerance, if you want to grow a sapodilla tree in a less than semi-tropical area, it would be prudent to either grow it in a greenhouse or as a container plant that can be moved to a protected area in case of inclement weather. If such weather occurs, the tree may also be covered with sheeting to aid in protection.

This evergreen fruit bearer hails from the family of Sapotaceae in the genus of Manilkara with a calorie rich, easy-to-digest fruit. The sapodilla fruit is sand colored with a skin similar to a kiwi but without the fuzz. The interior pulp is of young sapodilla fruit is white with a heavy concentration of sticky latex, called saponin. The saponin abates as the fruit ripens and the flesh subsequently turns brown. The inside of the fruit contains three to 10 inedible seeds at the center.

A good reason to grow a sapodilla tree is its excellent source of nutrition within the fruit, which is composed of fructose and sucrose and is rich in calories. The fruit also contains vitamins such as vitamin C and A, folate, niacin and pantothenic acid and minerals like potassium, copper, and iron. It is rich in antioxidant tannins too and purported to be useful as an anti-inflammatory and a virus, “bad” bacteria and parasite fighter. Sapodilla fruit has also been used as an anti-diarrheal, hemostatic, and hemorrhoid aid.

Care for Sapodilla Trees

To grow a sapodilla tree, most propagation is done by seed, which will be viable for years although some commercial growers use grafting and other practices. Once germinated, use some patience as it takes five to eight years to grow a sapodilla tree of bearing age.

As mentioned, the fruit tree is tolerant of most conditions but prefers a sunny, warm, and frost free location in most any type of soil with good drainage.

Additional care for sapodilla trees advises fertilizing the young trees with -8% nitrogen, 2-4% phosphoric acid and 6-8% potash every two or three months with ¼ pound (113 g.) and increasing gradually to 1 pound (453 g.). After the first year, two or three application a year is plenty.

Not only are sapodilla trees tolerant of drought conditions, but they can take soil salinity, need very little pruning and are mostly pest resistant.

As long as the sapodilla tree is protected from frost and patience is in abundance for this slow grower, flavorful fruit shall be the reward from this tolerant specimen.


Growing Sapodilla Fruit - Care Of Sapodilla Trees - garden

When choosing a spot to start your home orchard, it is important to consider three factors – sunshine, soil and spacing.

SUNSHINE

Sunshine made John Denver happy. It will also make your fruit tree happy. Plant your tree in an location which receives at least a half day of sun. Sunlight helps the tree to produce a prolific crop of fruit. Do not plant your tree in an area of full shade.

Fruit trees prefer well-drained, fertile soils. Most soils drain well enough to keep your trees happy. But if you have a high clay content, work in 1/3 peat to the soil at planting time. This will help increase the drainage for your tree. Full clay soils and poorly drained locations need to be avoided. Fruit trees will not thrive in wet, poorly drained, low spots in your yard. If your soil is very heavy and poorly drained, you can build a mound or berm with trucked-in topsoil to plant your tree or trees on top of.

SPACING

All of our trees are dwarf or semi-dwarf trees, selected to optimize the use of space and to produce good crops of fruit. Trees should be planted about 12-14′ from each other. If you plant more than one row, the rows should be separated by 18-20′. This will allow plenty of space for the tree to thrive. This space gives the sun the opportunity to shine down on the tree. It also provides good air ventilation, which helps reduce diseases on your tree.

One last consideration be sure to consider your future plans when siting your orchard. Allow for room to add more trees. Once you get starting growing fruit at home, you will want to add new fruits to increase the variety of your harvest.

POLLINATION

Fruit results from the pollination of blossoms. Some trees can set an abundant crop with their own pollen, so they are called self-pollinating. Other trees need pollen from another variety. This cross-pollination is usually done by bees. Some neighborhoods have enough fruit trees to assure plenty of cross-pollination, but you should plant your own “pollination partners” just to be sure. If a variety is not self-pollinating, two trees of the same variety will not cross-pollinate each other.

Generally speaking, most apples, pears, plums and sweet cherries require a pollinator, although there are a few self-pollinating varieties in each of those fruit types. Peaches, nectarines, tart cherries and apricots are almost always self-pollinating.

Look under the various fruit types for detailed guidance on appropriate pollinators for your apples, pears, plums and sweet cherries. And remember, apples can’t pollinate pears, and pears can’t pollinate plums. Pollinators must be from the same fruit type – cats and dogs don’t breed.

PRUNING

We cannot stress enough the importance of regular, annual, aggressive pruning. It is essential to maintain the ongoing vigor of the tree and to maximize the production of fruit.

First year pruning sets the eventual shape of the tree. If your tree is taller than 4-6′ above ground, after it’s planted, trim it down to that height. Thin out the inward growing branches and any branches which are crossing over each other. Trim off the tips of the larger branches to encourage growth. See the illustration below for a before and after look at the branches.

Any shoots or branches which come from BELOW the “bud union” should always be pruned – now and in the future. Brand new stems that grow out of the ground, from the root systems are called suckers. If you see them, simply cut them off at ground level. When the tree matures, suckering usually diminishes.

If your trees set fruit this first year, pick off some of the immature fruits, spacing them about 8″ apart on the branches. This will encourage proper ripening, allow the spray to cover well, and improve vegetative vigor. Fruit thinning in the future is also important for the very same reasons. Less is more. If you don’t thin, you will get many more fruits than the tree can handle, resulting in broken branches and small fruits. So don’t be afraid to thin. The resulting fruits will be fuller and much nicer.

In later years, it is helpful to “shape” your tree. Apple, pear and cherry trees are best trained to a central leader (uppermost upright limb). Peach, nectarine, plum and apricot trees should be trained to a vase shape (no central leader). See the drawings below which show what your mature tree should look like. As you prune, bear this shape in mind and prune accordingly. Don’t be shy it’s really hard to overprune a fruit tree.

Young Fruit Tree Forms, Before and After Pruning:

Mature Tree Forms:

WHEN TO PRUNE

APPLES AND PEARS

It is generally best to prune apples and pears when they are dormant. So pick a nice pleasant, sunny winter day and enjoy this part of orcharding. Summer pruning is helpful to retard growth of the tree. So if the tree is growing very aggressively and getting taller than you like, take it back in July to control this growth.

CHERRIES

It is generally best to prune cherry trees when the weather is hot. Do not prune in the winter or late fall or early spring. Bacterial diseases are present in all non-arid environments and are particularly detrimental to sweet cherries. These bacteria are most active in cool, wet weather. So wait until the tree has leafed out and the warm late spring weather patterns are well established – usually by the end of May – to prune your cherry trees.

PEACHES, NECTARINES AND APRICOTS

The best time to prune peaches, nectarines and apricots is in the early spring. Try pruning after the last frost date for your area. At this time, most of the winter damage can be trimmed off and you will minimize the effect of late frost damage to your buds and blooms.

PLUMS

As plums are very vigorous growers, you will want to prune aggressively. Bear in mind that summer pruning, when the trees is still growing, will help contain the spreading nature of your plum tree. You cannot over-prune a plum tree. So do clean up pruning in the winter, to get rid of broken and dead branches and shape up the tree. Then in July, prune again to maintain a manageable size.


Growing Guide: Sapodilla

Plant Type
Tropical / Subtropical Evergreen Fruit Tree

Harvest Season
Fall, Spring, Winter

Mature Size
On average, Sapodilla trees will reach mature heights and equal canopy widths of anywhere from 15-50 feet, depending on growing conditions. Sapodilla trees will produce fruit in containers.

Soil & Moisture
Sapodilla fruit trees are really adaptable in terms of soil conditions and will thrive in many types of soil, from poor loose sandy soil to deep, rich organic soil, as well as light clay, or gravel. Regardless of soil type, fostering good drainage is for your Sapodilla tree is essential. Sapodilla's don't like wet feet! Increase watering during flowering and fruiting season.

Light Requirements
Full Sun, Part Shade

Self-Fertile
Yes

Growth Rate
Medium

Zone Hardiness
Outdoors 9-11 Patio/Greenhouse 4+

Sapodilla's prefer warm locales but are also slightly frost tolerant, highly wind tolerant and can take salt spray. Frost protection is necessary when young, but established Sapodilla trees may be cold tolerant down to 28 degrees.

Propagation
Our Sapodilla fruit tree varieties are mainly grown from graft, but may also sometimes be air-layered.

Large Pot Size: Established with more healthy growth and ready to produce within 2 or 3 years.

X-Large Pot Size: Most established, mature plant with full foliage, closest to fruiting size and ready to produce within 1 or 2 years.

See More
Sow Exotic has several types and sizes of Sapodilla fruit trees. Shop All Sapodilla Varieties.

Sapodilla is known by many names around the world including Mispel, Zapote, Dilly, Chico, Chico sapote, Zapote chico, Zapotillo, Chicle, Sapodilla plum, and Naseberry, among countless others.


Sapodilla 'Makok' (Manilkara zapota)

Makok Sapodilla is native to Thailand and is a relatively recent introduction to Florida. It's one of the most highly regard Sapodilla varieties for it's superb flavor. Sapodilla fruit has a delicious apple pie like flavor with notes of brown sugar, cinnamon and caramel with a light, sightly gritty pear-like texture.

The dwarf Makok is quick to fruit, is easy to grow in containers, and is an excellent variety for homeowners. Our favorite way to enjoy Sapodilla fruit, other than eating it fresh from the tree, is in milkshakes. We first tried Sapodilla milkshakes in the Bahamas, where it goes by the name Dilly.

Sapoilla fruit trees are closely related to Mamey Sapote, Star Apple, and Canistel. The fruit tree is thought to have originated in the Central American rain forests, probably in Mexico and Belize. Today, its cultivation has spread all over the tropical belt and grown as a major commercial crop in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Sapodilla's are known by many names around the world including Mispel, Zapote, Dilly, Chico, Chico sapote, Zapote chico, Zapotillo, Chicle, Sapodilla plum, and Naseberry, among countless others.

Plant Type
Tropical / Subtropical Evergreen Fruit Tree

Harvest Season
Fall, Spring, Winter

Mature Size
On average, Sapodilla trees will reach mature heights and equal canopy widths of anywhere from 15-50 feet, depending on growing conditions. Sapodilla trees will produce fruit in containers.

Soil & Moisture
Sapodilla fruit trees are really adaptable in terms of soil conditions and will thrive in many types of soil, from poor loose sandy soil to deep, rich organic soil, as well as light clay, or gravel. Regardless of soil type, fostering good drainage is for your Sapodilla tree is essential. Sapodilla's don't like wet feet! Increase watering during flowering and fruiting season.

Light Requirements
Full Sun, Part Shade

Self-Fertile
Yes

Growth Rate
Medium

Zone Hardiness
Outdoors 9-11 Patio/Greenhouse 4+

Sapodilla's prefer warm locales but are also slightly frost tolerant, highly wind tolerant and can take salt spray. Frost protection is necessary when young, but established Sapodilla trees may be cold tolerant down to 28 degrees.

Propagation
Our Sapodilla fruit tree varieties are mainly grown from graft, but may also sometimes be air-layered.

Large Pot Size: Established with more healthy growth and ready to produce within 2 or 3 years.

X-Large Pot Size: Most established, mature plant with full foliage, closest to fruiting size and ready to produce within 1 or 2 years.

See More
Sow Exotic has several types and sizes of Sapodilla fruit trees. Shop All Sapodilla Varieties.

Sapodilla is known by many names around the world including Mispel, Zapote, Dilly, Chico, Chico sapote, Zapote chico, Zapotillo, Chicle, Sapodilla plum, and Naseberry, among countless others.


Sapodilla

Sapodilla is the name applied in the United States to Achras Sapota, Linn., of the family Sapotaceae, generally considered one of the best indigenous fruits of the American tropics. The tree is commonly cultivated, as well as naturalized, on the Florida Keys, and the fruit (Fig. 3545) is offered in south Florida markets.

Botanically the sapodilla is closely related to the mamey sapote (Lucuma mammosa), the ti-es (L. nervosa) and the star-apple (Chrysophyllum Cainito), fruits which are well known in various parts of tropical America. The tree is evergreen, stately, with a dense rounded or conical crown sometimes attaining a height of 50 to 60 feet, horizontal or drooping branches, and stiff, glossy leaves thickly clustered at the ends of the young branchlets. The wood is hard and very durable, timbers in an excellent state of preservation having been found in the Mayan ruins of Yucatan. The bark contains a milky latex known commercially as chicle, which is secured by tapping the trunk, and is exported in considerable quantities from Mexico to the United States, where it forms the basis of chewing-gum. The leaves are borne upon slender petioles up to 1 inch long, the blades entire or emarginate, ovate-elliptic to elliptic-lanceolate in outline, rounded-cuneate at the base and commonly obtuse at the apex, 2 to 5 inches long, glabrous, of rich green color, the midrib prominent below. The small inconspicuous flowers are produced upon short finely pubescent pedicels in the leaf-axils toward the ends of the branchlets the calyx is composed of six small ovate-acuminate hairy sepals, the corolla white, tubular or urceolate, lobulate at the top, the stamens six, opposite the lobules, with short flattened attenuate filaments and lanceolate-acuminate extrorse anthers staminodes six, petaloid style clavate, hairy at the tip, the ovary ten- to twelve-celled, each cell containing one ovule.

The fruit is very variable in form, commonly round, oval, globose-depressed, or conical, and 2 to 3 1/2 inches in diameter. The skin is thin, rusty brown, somewhat scurfy, giving the fruit a striking resemblance to an Irish potato. The flesh is yellowish brown, translucent, soft and melting when fully ripe, sweet and delicious, but when green containing tannin and a milky latex, so that it must not be eaten until it has become quite mellow. The seeds vary from none to ten or twelve, and are hard, black and shining, obovate, flattened, about 3/4 inch long, easily separated from the pulp.

The flavor of the sapodilla is difficult of description, likened to that of a pear by some writers, and with a peculiar character common to several sapotaceous fruits. Some of the early writers were enthusiastic in praising it, the Spanish historian, Oviedo, going so far as to call the sapodilla the best of all fruits. More recently Firminger, an Anglo-Indian horticulturist, wrote that "a more luscious, cool and agreeable fruit is not to be met with in this or perhaps any country in the world," while Descourtilz says it is "melting, and has the sweet perfumes of honey, jasmin, and lily-of-the valley." In Florida it is a general favorite, especially among residents of the keys, and in numerous other parts of tropical America it assumes considerable importance among cultivated fruits.

The tree is considered by Pittier to be indigenous in Mexico south of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, in Guatemala, and possibly in Salvador and northern Honduras, being especially abundant in the lowlands of Tabasco, Chiapas, and the western part of Yucatan, which are the principal centers of production of chicle gum. The common name is derived from the Nahuatl word zapotl or tzicozapotl, the latter meaning "gum zapotl" and surviving to the present day in the precise form chicozapote, by which the tree is commonly known in southern Mexico zapotl was the name given by the Aztecs to all soft sweet fruits. In Spanish-speaking countries the sapodilla is frequently called nispero, which name properly belongs to the European medlar. In the British West Indies the name naseberry is common. In Brazil one form of the fruit is called sapoti, another sapota. The German name for the tree is Breiapfelbaum, the French sapotillier, and the Dutch mispelboom.

From its home in tropical America, the sapodilla has been carried around the globe, and though less commonly cultivated in the Orient than the papaya, it is grown in many regions, particularly in some parts of southern India, where, according to Macmillan, it thrives up to elevations of 3,000 feet, though in Ceylon it is seldom productive above 1,500 feet and succeeds best on the coast. In Ecuador its cultivation is said by Pittier to extend into the temperate belt at altitudes of more than 8,000 feet. Its culture in Florida is limited to the southern part of the state, approximately the section south of Palm Beach on the east coast and the Manatee River on the west. Mature trees have passed uninjured through temperatures of 28° F., according to Reasoner. A notable advantage of the tree for some parts of the West Indies is the fact that the branches are tough and not easily broken by hurricanes. In California it has not yet fruited, though in favored locations specimens have occasionally attained an age of several years without being injured by frost. Even in the tropics, however, the tree grows very slowly, and in California the cool winters greatly hinder its development. It seems probable that it may yet be fruited in protected foothill regions, but its culture in most parts of southern California is not practicable.

The soil best adapted to the sapodilla seems to be rich sandy loam, but it thrives almost equally well on light clay and on the shallow sandy soil, underlaid with soft limestone, which is found on the lower east coast of Florida. Even though grown under the most favorable conditions, the trees rarely come into bearing until six to eight years of age, if seedlings, and in some sections do not attain a greater ultimate height than 20 to 30 feet. They should not be set closer together than 25 to 30 feet, and require very little pruning, because of their close compact growth. As a general thing the trees bear heavily, and two crops a year are frequently produced this, with the natural variation in season among seedling trees, results in ripe fruit being found in the markets of tropical America at nearly all times of the year.

Experiments have shown that the sapodilla can be shipped very successfully and without excessive care in packing notwithstanding the delicate texture of the skin it keeps well, and if picked while still hard can be kept in good condition for ten days or more. Shipments have been made from the Florida Keys to New York, the fruit being placed in small baskets which hold half a dozen good-sized fruits, six of these baskets being packed in a tomato-crate. For local consumption or for shipping to short distances, the common procedure in Florida is to pull the fruits from the tree and throw them into boxes or baskets, in which they are carried to market, where the ripe ones are picked out and sold from day to day. The sapodilla is used almost exclusively as a fresh fruit, usually eaten out of hand, but is sometimes utilized in Brazil and Cuba to prepare a delicious sherbet. Little is known of its culinary possibilities. Due to its lack of acidity it is doubtful whether it will lend itself to many different uses.

The sapodilla is generally propagated by seed, but the variation among seedlings in productiveness as well as in quality, size, and shape of fruit necessitates some asexual means of propagation, if the most desirable seedling forms are to be perpetuated. Horticulturists have been as dilatory in applying vegetative propagation to the sapodilla as they have with most of the other tropical fruits, but experiments in Florida have shown that it can readily be budded, using as stocks seedlings of the same species.

Seeds, if kept dry, will retain their vitality for several years, and are easily transported through the mails to any distance. They should be planted in shallow flats of light sandy soil, covering them to the depth of 1/2 inch. In warm weather germination takes place within a month, and the young seedlings, after they have made their second leaves, can be potted off and carried along in pots for the first year or two, when they are ready to be set out in the open ground. If to be budded, they may be planted in nursery rows about 3 feet apart, 18 inches apart in the row. In south Florida, May has proved to be a favorable season for budding in strictly tropical regions the work can probably be done at any time, provided the stock plants are in active growth. Budwood should be chosen from young branches which have begun to lose their greenish color and assume a brownish tinge, and should be carefully examined to see that the eyes are well developed. Shield-budding is the method used, the details being practically the same as with the mango buds should be cut slightly more than an inch in length, and the wood removed if it comes out readily. After making the incision in the stock, the bud should be inserted and tied as promptly as possible, as the latex soon collects around the incision and renders it difficult to do the work properly. Waxed tape should be used for wrapping. After three or four weeks the stock may be headed back, and the wrap loosened, leaving the eye exposed so that it may start into growth.

Occasional seedlings produce fruits which are nearly or quite seedless some produce fruits weighing more than a pound, while others do not weigh over two or three ounces some are unusually prolific, or ripen their fruit at especially desirable times of the year. From such seedlings one should select the best for propagation, having in mind the characteristics which it is most desired to perpetuate.

The tree seems to be remarkably free from insect pests and fungous diseases, and in Florida requires very little attention. While fertilizers are not commonly employed, their judicious use will doubtless improve the size of the fruit and have a beneficial effect in those frequent instances where the tree brings to maturity so many fruits that some remain very small.


The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.

Adaptation: Sapodillas are not strictly tropical and mature trees can withstand temperatures of 26° to 28° F for several hours. Young trees are more tender and can be killed by 30° F. The sapodilla seems equally at home in humid and relatively dry environments. Although it will grow in the milder parts of southern California, whether it will fruit regularly remains to be seen. A tree in La Mesa, Calif. has borne fruit. Cool California nights seem to be a limiting factor. The slow-growing sapodilla makes a satisfactory container or greenhouse specimen.

Growth Habit: The sapodilla is an attractive upright, slow-growing, long-lived evergreen tree. Distinctly pyramidal when young, with age the tree may develops a crown that is dense and rounded or sometimes open and somewhat irregular in shape. It is strong and wind-resistant and rich in a white, gummy latex. In the tropics it can grow to 100 feet, but grafted cultivars are substantially shorter. A 40-year old tree in La Mesa, California is only about 12 feet tall.

Leaves: The leaves are highly ornamental, 3 to 4-1/2 inches long and 1 to 1-1/2 inches wide. They are medium green, glossy, alternate and spirally clustered at the tip of forked twigs.

Flowers: Sapodilla flowers are small, inconspicuous and bell-like, approximately 3/8 inch in diameter. They are borne on slender stalks in the axil of the leaves. There are several flushes of flowers throughout the year.

Fruit: The fruit is round to egg-shape, 2 - 4 inches in diameter. The skin is brown and scruffy when ripe. The flesh varies from yellow to shades of brown and sometimes reddish-brown, and may be smooth or of a granular texture. The flavor is sweet and pleasant, ranging from a pear flavor to crunchy brown sugar. Fruits can be seedless, but usually have from 3 to 12 hard, black, shiny, flattened seeds about 3/4 inch long in the center of the fruit.

Miscellaneous: Chicle, the latex obtained from the bark of the tree has been used as a chewing gum base for many years.


Watch the video: How to cuttings sapodilla 100% succeeded in growing roots well..


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