Characteristics of Sapodilla (Manilkara zapota) Trees in the Wild

Manilkara zapota
Sapodilla or Naseberry is a long-lived fruiting plant species, originating from southern Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Today sapodilla trees are planted and cultivated on a large scale in Mexico, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

Sapodilla trees can survive in warm or tropical environments, and die easily if the temperature drops below freezing.

From seed germination, sapodilla trees will usually take between 5-8 years to bear fruit. Sapodilla trees produce fruit twice a year, and flower throughout the year.

Sapodilla leaves have compounds that, if extracted, show anti-diabetic, antioxidant, and hypocholesterolemia effects. While the substance of the seed extract contains an antibacterial effect in vitro against strains of Pseudomonas oleovorans and Vibrio cholerae.

In each country, the name sapodilla has various names, including Sawo in Indonesia, Mispel in the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean, Zapote in Honduras and Panama, Níspero in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Cuba, Guyana, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Colombia and Venezuela, Sapoti in Brazil and Haiti, and Chicosapote or Chicozapote in Guatemala, Mexico, Hawaii, and Florida. As in Asia, the names of the synonyms are Chico in the Philippines, Chikoo in India and Pakistan, Sapathilla in Sri Lanka, Sobeda Bangladesh, Sabudheli in the Maldives, Hồng xiêm in Vietnam, Lamoot in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia.

 

Characteristics of Sapodilla Leaf

Manilkara zapota Leaf
Source : flickr.com/Forest and Kim Starr

The leaves are shiny green, elliptical to ovate, and 7-15 cm long.

 

Characteristics of Sapodilla Flower

Manilkara zapota Flower
Source : flickr.com/ing123

Sapodillas are white and belllike, with six hollow crowns.

 

Characteristics of Sapodilla Fruit

Manilkara zapota Fruit
Source : flickr.com/anakayer

Young sapodillas have firm green skin and when picked, white gummy comes out of the fruit stalk. Whereas the ripe sapodilla fruit has rather saggy skin and does not secrete when picked.

The fruit itself is 4-8 cm in diameter, the flesh is a pale yellow to light brown with a somewhat coarse texture. Each fruit contains one to six seeds. The seeds are shiny black, hard, and resemble nuts.

 

Characteristics of Sapodilla Tree

Manilkara zapota Tree
Source : flickr.com/Dinesh Valke

Sapodilla trees can grow to a height of more than 30 meters with an average stem diameter of 1.5 meters. However, the average height of cultivated specimens is usually 10-15 meters high and the stem diameter does not exceed 50 cm. Sapodilla trees are also resistant to strong winds and have milky white sap if the trunk is injured.

Sapodilla trees are widely planted in low-lying areas, although it actually can grow well to a height of about 2,500 m above sea level. The tree is resistant to drought, high salinity, and strong winds. The most suitable land for planting or cultivating trees is fertile, well-drained sandy loam soil.

 
SAPODILLA TREE BENEFITS

Sapodilla is a fruit that is very popular in Southeast Asia, as well as a major producer and consumer region. Sapodilla is preferred mainly because of its sweet taste and soft flesh.

Most fruits are eaten fresh. But sapodillas can also be processed into sherbet, mixed with ice cream, or made into jam. Sapodilla juice can be processed into syrup, or fermented into wine or vinegar. The sap of the tree can be used as glue or varnish.

In the United States, the sapodilla tree sap is tapped and thickened to be processed into natural chewing gum. This sap is also used as a variety of industrial raw materials as a substitute for patches of gum and dental fillings.

Good quality sapodilla tree wood, also classified as hard and heavy wood with a smooth texture and attractive color patterns. This wood is preferred as a material for furniture and carvings, including for making sculptures because it is easily shaped and easily polished with good results. In addition, sapodilla wood is durable and tolerant of fungus and insect attacks.

 

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