Like exotic fruits? Then why not consider growing a sapodilla tree (Manilkara zapota). As long as you care for sapodilla trees as suggested, you’ll find yourself benefitting from its healthy, tasty fruits in no time. Let’s learn more about how to grow a sapodilla tree.
What is Sapodilla Fruit?
The answer to, “What is sapodilla fruit?” is quite simply a delicious tropical fruit ranking amongst the likes of mango, banana and jackfruit. Sapodilla answers to quite a few monikers such as Chico, Chico sapote, Sapota, Zapote chico, Zapotillo, Chicle, Sapodilla plum and Naseberry. You may recognize the name ‘Chicle,’ which refers to the latex excreted by the sapodilla fruit and is used as a chewing gum base.
Growing sapodillas are thought to have originated in the Yucatan peninsula and nearby southern regions of Mexico, Belize and into northeastern Guatemala. It was then introduced and since cultivated throughout the tropical Americas, West Indies and the southern part of Florida.
Information Regarding Growing Sapodillas
Growing sapodillas are not strictly tropical and adult sapodilla fruit trees can survive temperatures of 26-28 F. (-2 to -3 C.), for a short period of time. Sapling trees are more likely to sustain major damage or even die at 30 F. (-1 C.). Growing sapodillas are not particular when it comes to water requirements. They may do equally well in arid or humid environments, although more severe conditions may result in a lack of fruiting.
Despite its temperature tolerance, if you want to grow a sapodilla tree in a less than semi-tropical area, it would be prudent to either grow it in a greenhouse or as a container plant that can be moved to a protected area in case of inclement weather. If such weather occurs, the tree may also be covered with sheeting to aid in protection.
This evergreen fruit bearer hails from the family of Sapotaceae in the genus of Manilkara with a calorie rich, easy-to-digest fruit. The sapodilla fruit is sand colored with a skin similar to a kiwi but without the fuzz. The interior pulp is of young sapodilla fruit is white with a heavy concentration of sticky latex, called saponin. The saponin abates as the fruit ripens and the flesh subsequently turns brown. The inside of the fruit contains three to 10 inedible seeds at the center.
Why grow organic sapodilla trees? One of the major reasons why you should grow sapodilla tree is its extraordinary benefits. The Sapodilla fruit is rich in sucrose and fructose, which is great for human bodies. It also contains folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, iron, Vitamin A and C, and copper.
Wait! There is more to tell you. The fruit contains antioxidant tannins, which is anti-inflammatory and helpful against parasites and bad bacteria. Also, the fruit is used as hemorrhoid, anti-diarrheal, and hemostatic aid.
How to Care the Sapodilla Trees
To grow a sapodilla tree, most propagation is done by seed, which will be viable for years although some commercial growers use grafting and other practices. For growing sapodilla trees, you need to be very patient because it takes 5 to 8 years until they start producing the fruits.
As I told before, the sapodilla tree can stand in difficult conditions as well, but it do prefer warm, and sunny location. There is no limitation for the soil type, but drainage should be good.
For better fruit and rapid growth, you can add some organic fertilizers to the soil that contain nitrogen and potash. Don’t add organic fertilizer too soon. Add the fertilizer after two to three months during the first year and then you can add the fertilizer twice a year for rest of its life.
The most interesting thing about this tree is that it is almost pest resistant, which is something every gardener loves to hear. It ensures that you only need to spend a couple of years in taking care of it and then it will keep growing with minimum care.
The two major requirements of growing a sapodilla tree are frost protection and patience. It is a slow growing plant as mentioned earlier, so take it easy. But, the good news is that once it starts producing the fruits, you shall be rewarded enough.
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