Logging Sapote

Sapotes (Sapotaceae) have long been important trees in the tropical Americas, Africa and Southeast Asia. They have provided sap of industrial importance, fruit and wood - hard to extremely hard wood. They range from small to rather large trees, like the one the balata log being cut in Guyana came from (wood so hard it does not float and can't be nailed).   Photo by Jesseknight contributed to the public domain.

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 from here.

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Abiu   -   [Abio; Abieiro (Portugal), Yellow Star Apple (Trinidad); Camio, Caimito amarillo (Colombia); Luma, Cauje (Ecuador); Temare (Venezuela); Pouteria caimito]
Cut Fruit

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.

Argan   -   [Argania spinosa]
Fruit on Tree

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.

Canistel   -   [Yellow Sapote, Eggfruit; Chesa (Philippine); Lamut Khamen (Thai); Lekima, cay trung ga (Vietnam); Pouteria campechiana]
Whole and cut Fruit

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.

Chicle   -   [Manilkara chicle]

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 coverings).   Photo by United States Federal Government = public domain.

Gutta-percha   -   [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..

Lucuma   -   [Pouteria lucuma]
Whole Fruit

Native to the Andean region of Peru, this 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 Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Mamey Sapote   -   [PLU 4310; Pouteria sapota]
Whole and Cut Fruit

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); Synsepalum dulcificum]
Fruit on Tree

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 conditions..   Photo by Hamale Lyman contributed to the public domain.

Sapodilla   -   [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); Manilkara zapota]
Whole and cut fruit

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   -   [Shi Tree; Gonja (Niger-Congo); Vitellaria paradoxa obs. Butyrospermum parkii]
Whole Shea Nuts

This fruit tree is native across equatorial Africa (not quite touching the coast on either east or west), but Turkey is now also a major grower. The flesh of the fruit (about 2-1/4 inches long) is tart, edible, and nutritious, but rather thin, surrounding a large seed. The seed is the primary interest, as it yields a large amount of oil. This oil, very high in saturated and monosaturated fats, is called shea butter. It is solid at a cool room temperature, but this solidity is quite variable depending on the saturated / monunsaturated ratio provided by individual trees. Some separates, so liquid oil (mostly monounsaturated oleic acid) can be siphoned off.

Unrefined Shea Butter has an antioxident content similar to olives, with a profile similar to green tea. In the West, shea butter is used mainly for cosmetics, but in equatorial Africa it is a major cooking oil, and is also used to make soap. IUCN Red List VU (Vulnerable).   Photo by LC-Seminar Uni Hohenheim contributed to the Public Domain. Details and Cooking.

Star Apple   -   [Vu sua (Vietnam); Cainito, Caimito, Abiaba, Pomme du Lait, Estrella, Milk Fruit, Aguay. Golden Leaf Tree; Chrysophyllum cainito]
Whole an cut fruit

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 juicier flesh, and a rare yellow version. The flesh is soft, sweet and quite delicious, but there's not a lot of it due to the 1/4 inch thick rind. The photo specimens were 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 sapote, but it's actually a citrus.

Wongi   -   [Caqui (Worldwide); Wongi (Australia); Manilkara kauki]
Fruit on Tree

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.

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