Sapodilla… Nispero… Chico… Naseberry…Ciku. All these names identify the same delicious fruit from Central America, Manilkara zapota. In the United States, this fruit is known as Sapodilla, and it is related to Mamey Sapote, Green Sapote, Canistel, and Abiu. The sapodilla tree is native to the Yucatan peninsula and other nearby locations in Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala where it is a dominant tree in the forest. In colonial times the fruit spread via trade throughout the Caribbean and South America, and eventually made its way to Asia in the early 1800s where today the fruit has become widely cultivated and loved.
The sapodilla fruit ranges in size from a large chicken egg to the size of a softball. Inside the sweet flesh is light brown in color and has the texture of a pear. The flavor is described as a pear soaked in brown sugar! The seeds should not be eaten as they have a small hook on one end that can get lodged in the throat.
It can be difficult to determine when the fruit is ready to harvest as unripe fruit looks very similar to ripe fruit! The best way to know if the fruit is ready to pick is to gently scratch the skin of the fruit with your fingernail. If the skin underneath is green, then do not pick the fruit as it has not matured yet and will never ripen. If the color of the skin is yellow underneath then the fruit is mature, and the fruit will ripen in a few days. You can also use this guide when selecting fruit at the market. If the skin underneath is green, don’t buy it!
We have several cultivars, or cultivated varieties, of sapodilla here at the park, and their fruit becomes mature in from December to June. So there are lots of opportunities here in the park to enjoy the tasty fruit of the sapodilla tree!
Some other fruits you will find around the park during the month of January are:
Abiu – Pouteria caimito
Avocado – Persea americana
Canistel – Pouteria campechiana
Coconut – Cocos nucifera
Coffee – Coffea arabica
Guiana chestnut – Pachira aquatica
Jujube – Zizyphus spp.
Mamey Sapote – Pouteria sapota
Olosapo – Couepia polyandra
Sapodilla, Manilkara zapota