Scientific Name: Manilkara zapota
Common names: naseberry, chikoo, chiku, dilly. chicle, chicozapote, níspero, zapote, zapotillo.
Sapodilla trees are medium to large trees with a pyramidal to rounded canopy. These long-lived trees grow slowly. It will generally attain a height of 40 to 45 feet in Florida.
The sapodilla tree offers not only a delicious fruit, but is the origin of CHEWING GUM in this country. A milky latex exudes from all tree parts. This latex is known as chicle and was the prime ingredient in chewing gum during World War II. It was often offered by American soldiers to people abroad. This ingredient has now been replaced by synthetics, but the trees still have great value for their fruit.
The sapodilla is a tough and undemanding tree. It is tolerant of most soil types including the thin limestone soils of extreme south-eastern Florida and the Keys. Sapodilla is considered an invasive exotic in Florida. However, the excellence of the fruit and many other attributes make it difficult to resist its allure.
The fruit is a large berry 2 to 5 inches in diameter covered with brown scurf. When perfectly ripe, the sapodilla ranks at the top echelon of all tropical fruit. The flavor is reminiscent of a luscious pear, suffused with brown sugar and scented with jasmine.
A number of excellent sapodilla cultivars are well suited for cultivation in Florida.
Alano, Hasya, Morena, Tikal, Brown Sugar, Makok, and Silas Wood all make the list.
For more information about cultivating sapodilla download the Sapodilla PDF provided by the University of Florida IFAS Extension Electronic Data Information Source (EDIS). Or you can visit the EDIS sapodilla page.