Note that some fruits called "sapote" are not actually
Sapotaceae, because "zapote" derives from Nahuatl "tzapotl", a
general word for soft sweet fruit. Two important non-sapotes are linked
Abiu - [Abio;
Abieiro (Portugal), Yellow Star Apple (Trinidad); Camio, Caimito
amarillo (Colombia); Luma, Cauje (Ecuador); Temare (Venezuela);
This yellow - green fruit is native to the headwaters of the Amazon (Eastern
Peru, western Brazil, southern Venezuela). They are now grown to some extent
in southern Florida and northeastern Queensland, Australia. The fruit tastes
much like Sapodilla but has a smoother texture. It is mostly eaten fresh but
is also used to flavor ice cream and yogurt and other light flavored dishes.
Photo by Pouletic distributed under license Creative Commons
Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.
This tree, native to semi-desert regions of Morocco and Algeria,
bears pointed oval fruits up to 1-1/2 inches long. The peel is bitter. The
thin flesh has an attractive sweet aroma but unpleasant taste. Of interest
is the large hard seed, source for Argan Oil. Until recently, this oil was
almost unknown outside Morocco where it is used as a dipping oil and as a
cooking oil substituted for olive oil, It is also important in cosmetics,
having a very high vitamin E and phenol content. This oil is now much more
widely known due to conservation efforts, and is now exported as a high
value product, making properly managing the trees economical.
Details and Cooking.
Photo distributed under license Creative Commons
Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.
Black Sapote -
[Zapote Negro, Chocolate pudding fruit]
It looks like a sapote, it's soft and sweet like a sapote, but it's
actually the fruit of an ebony tree, so it is a variety of persimmon.
[Yellow Sapote, Eggfruit; Chesa (Philippine); Lamut Khamen (Thai);
Lekima, cay trung ga (Vietnam); Pouteria campechiana]
This tree is native to southern Mexico and Central America but is now grown
in Brazil, Taiwan and Southeast Asia. The fruit grows to about 2.8 inches
long with sweet flesh having a texture likened to cooked egg yolk.
Photo by Hans B. contributed to the public domain.
This tree, native to southern Mexico and Central America. It is famous as
the original source of chewing gum. Today few gum makers still use natural
chicle, most now use butadiene-based synthetic rubber. The gum is harvested
by tapping the trees the same as rubber trees. Because they have been over
harvested, a lot of the natural gum now comes from Manilkara zapota
(Sapodilla) or M. bidentata (Balata, once famous for golf ball
Photo by United States Federal Government = public domain.
[Genus Palaquium species]
This tree is native to Southeast Asia and northern Australia. The sap, also
called Gutta-percha, was a very important electrical insulator, particularly
for telegraph cables from about 1845 until the invention of modern plastics.
In more recent times it has had important surgical and dental uses as it is
biologically inert and has a convenient melting point. Its use as the core
of golf balls revolutionized the sport. Today it is less used, and sometimes
replaced by a similar but less expensive sap called balata from a similar
and related tree (Manilkara bidentata) that grows in the Caribbean
region. The fruits of a number of Palaquium species are edible and
may be up to 2-3/4 inches long but are not of commercial importance.
Drawing by Franz Eugen Köhler, copyright expired..
Native to the Andean region of Peru, The large, very nutritious fruit has
rather dry bright yellow, sometimes fibrous, flesh with the texture of cooked
egg yolks and a flavor similar to maple and sweet potato. It has been grown
successfully in Southern California but is not yet a significant crop here,
though it is now a significant crop in Laos and Vietnam. It has recently
found a market as a dried flavoring ingredient.
Photo by David Hagerman distributed under license
Mamey Sapote -
[PLU 4310; Pouteria sapota]
This tropical tree is native to southern Mexico but is now grown
in Central and parts of South America, Southeast Asia and southern
Florida. The fruit is ripe when the flesh yields to the press of a thumb,
a bit softer than for a ripe avocado - you really don't want to even try
eating one that isn't fully ripe. Ripe ones are eaten raw and also used
to flavor milkshakes, smoothies, ice cream and fruit bars. The texture
is soft and slightly fibrous. The fruit is aromatic, almost like a
cherry filled chocolate. The larger of the photo specimens, grown in
USA, was 7-3/4 inches long, 4-1/8 inches diameter and weighed 2 pounds.
It was purchased from a Latino market in Los Angeles, California.
Miracle Fruit -
[Sweet berry; Agbayun,Taami, Asaa, Ledidi (West Africa);
Native to West Africa, this fruit, when consumed, causes substances as sour
as lemon or lime juice to taste sweet. The fruit itself is just mildly sweet.
The effect is from a protein called miraculin which apparently binds to
the sweetness receptors of the tongue causing them to sense sour rather than
sweet and report sweet to the brain. The effect can last up to 60 minutes.
Commercial exploitation has seen minor success, and the fruit is now grown
in Ghana, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, and South Florida, but miraculin is
now being produced commercially using genetically altered tomato plants.
The fruit is highly perishable, lasting only 2 to 3 days, and miraculin
is destroyed by even moderate heating, so the flesh is usually distributed
in freeze dried form, which lasts 10 to 18 months depending on storage
Photo by Hamale Lyman contributed to the public domain.
[Zapote, Sapote, Nispero, Dilly, Naseberry (Caribbean, South and
Central America): Chico, Tsico (Philippines): Chicozapote (Mexico,
California, Florida); Chicoo, Sapote (India, Pakistan); Hong xiem,
Lang mirt, Xa po che (Vietnam); Lamoot (Thai, Laos, Cambodia);
Native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, this popular
fruit is now grown in the Philippines, India and Pakistan. The flesh is soft,
moderately sweet and almost gritty in texture and has been compared to a
candied pear in flavor. The cut photo specimen is nowhere near ripe enough
to eat and will be very astringent due to the saponin content. The flesh,
when fully ripe is a darker brownish orange. They do not ripen on the tree,
only after being picked. The photo specimens, purchased from an Asian market
in Los Angeles were typically 3.6 inches long, 2.75 inches diameter and
weighed 8-1/2 ounces
Shea Nut - [Gonja
(Niger-Congo); Vitellaria paradoxa alt Butyrospermum
This is the fruit of a tree native to equatorial Africa (though not quite
touching the coast on either east or west) and it is now grown in Turkey as
well. The tart fruit, about 2-1/4 inches long, is edible and nutritious,
but oil from the large seed, called shea butter, is the main interest.
Mostly stearic and oleic acids, the oil is quite variable (depending on
individual trees) ranging from soft to solid at room temperature. Some
separates, so liquid oil (mostly oleic) can be siphoned off.
In the West shea butter is used mainly for cosmetics, but in equatorial
Africa it is a major cooking oil.
Photo by Marco Schmidt distributed under license Creative Commons
Attribution-Share Alike v2.5 Generic.
Star Apple -
[Vu sua (Vietnam); Cainito, Caimito, Abiaba, Pomme du Lait, Estrella,
Milk Fruit, Aguay. Golden Leaf Tree; Chrysophyllum cainito]
Native to lowland Central America and the Caribbean, this fruit is now
popular in Vietnam as well. The fruit comes in three colors: purple,
brownish green (as in the photo) which has a thinner skin and jucier flesh,
and a rare yellow version. The fruit pulp is sweet and delicious, but the
skin and rind, which is nearly 1/4 inch thick, are inedible. The flesh is
soft, sweet and quite delicious, but there's not a lot of it due to the
thick rind. The photo specimens are from Vietnam and were formerly frozen.
The largest (upper right) was 3-1/8 inches diameter and weighed 9-5/8 ounces.
White Sapote -
[Zapote Blanco, Sleep Sapote]
It looks like a sapote, it's soft and sweet like a sapota, but it's
actually a citrus.
Wongi - [Caqui (Worldwide);
Wongi (Australia); Manilkara kauki]
This tree is native to Southeast Asia from Thailand to Papua New
Guinea and northern Queensland, Australia. The fruits are a traditional food
of the Torres Strait Islanders (between the tip of Queensland and Papua New
Guinea). Note: the photo is actually of M. zapote because no usable
M. kauki photo was found. In Australia M. kauki is often used
as a grafting root stock for M. zapote so you can imagine the photo
specimens have M. kauki roots.
Photo by Docku distributed under license Creative Commons
Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.