My earliest memory of Sapota is my uncle getting these fruits home and asking us to keep them buried in Rice to ripen. Another uncle of mine had planted many Sapota trees in his farm where we used to stroll around the trees and take pictures posing beside them.
Botanical name is Manilkara zapota and belongs to Sapotaceae family. It is known as Sapota in Kannada, Chiku / Chikoo in Hindi. Sapodilla is native of Southern Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Now, it is grown in large quantities in South East Asia.
The tree grows to a height of 98 to 100 feet. The bark is filled with a latex called Chicle. The leaves are dark green, glossy, alternate, and ovate. They are 7 to 15 cm long. The white or off-white flowers are bell shaped and have 6 lobed corolla. The fruit is brown, round or oval and is 4 to 10 cm in diameter and can be 2 to 3 inches long. The flesh is light brown and has a unique aroma when ripe. The fruit can be easily opened by a gentle push from the fingers. It contains one to 6 glossy, hard, black seeds.
The fruit contains sugars like fructose and sucrose and is high in calories. It is also rich is dietary fiber, which helps relieve constipation. It is packed with antioxidant, vitamins, and minerals and hence used in traditional medicines to treat certain ailments.
Propagation is from Seeds and cuttings. It takes a Sapodilla tree 5 to 8 years to bear fruit. The trees grow best in tropical environments. A single tree can bear as many as 2000 fruits.