Pouteria caimito, the abiu, is a tropical fruit tree located in the
Amazonian region of South America. It will grow an average of 33
feet (10 m) high, and can grow as high as 116 feet (35 m) under good
conditions. Its fruit’s shape varies from round to oval with a
point. When ripe, it has smooth bright yellow skin and will have one
to four ovate seeds. The inside of the fruit is translucent and
white. It has a creamy and jelly-like texture and its taste is sweet
like caramel. The abiu is part of the Sapotaceae family.
The abiu, Pouteria caimito, is located in the headwaters of the
Amazon. It grows wild in the lower eastern part of the Andes from
southwestern Venezuela to Peru. It also grows around Iquitos, Peru
and it will commonly be found in the Province of Guayas in Ecuador,
where it's sold in the markets. It is also found in Brazil, growing
heavily Pará, and sparsely near Rio de Janeiro and Bahia. It can
also be found in Colombia in areas such as the regions of Caquetá,
Meta and Vaupes and it is very plentiful in Amazonas, Venezuela. It
has also been growing for a very long time in Trinidad.
The abiu grows best in areas that have a year-round moist and a
warm climate. It will do well in wet soil. It can now be found
throughout most of the Amazon. It is a common dooryard tree in the
backyards and streets in the city of many Brazilian towns, but it is
not usually grown commercially. The abiu habitats are nearly all
tropical. It will thrive in a place that has a year round warm and
moist climate, although it has been known to grow well in Rio de
Janeiro, which is a somewhat cooler climate. In Peru it cannot grow
above 2,000 feet (610 m) feet in elevation, but in Colombia it has
been found growing up to an elevation of 6,000 feet (1,800 m).
The leaves of Pouteria caimito range from oblong to elliptic. The
can be anywhere from four to eight inches in length and one and a
half to two and a half inches in width. The flowers on the tree can
come either by themselves or in clusters of two to five flowers.
They will appear on the leaf axils on long, thin shoots. The flowers
are small with four to five petals. The petals are cylindrical and
are white to greenish in color. The flowers are hermaphroditic,
meaning they are both sexes. The flowers open in the morning and can
stay open for about two days.
The abiu tree contains a fruit that is often eaten by hand. Each
tree can produce around one hundred to one thousand fruits each
year. The fruit has a sweet taste and is often used in ice cream.
The skin of the fruit is a yellow color and can have a leathery
texture. It has a white translucent pulp.
The fruit is also known as the yellow star apple or the caimito
amarillo. In Colombia it is known as the camio. In Ecuador it is
known as the luma, which is Spanish, and in Venezuela it is known as
the temare. Other common names are madura verde, avio, and in
Portugal it is known as the abieiro.
The abiu varies a lot in form, size and quality of the fruit.
Some of the fruits have a firm flesh and others have soft flesh.
Some taste bland while others have very nice flavor. In Colombia
along the Putamayo River there is a variety that will fruit in four
years. This type of fruit is round and large. In Vaupes, Colombia,
there is a variety that will bear fruit only one year after seeding,
however, these fruits will be small and they won’t have very much
pulp. Some other trees that the abiu is closely related to are other
sapotes, such as the canistel and mamey sapote.
In Ecuador, the fruits are in season during the months of March
and April. In some Brazilian markets, they are sold from September
to April, however at this time they are sparse. In Bahia there is a
short season in February and March. In Florida, the fruits have
become ripe in October. If the fruit is going to be transported to
different markets, it can be picked when it is not yet ripe to keep
it from being over-ripe when it arrives at the market. The unripe
fruit has a gummy latex texture, but the fruit will be ripe by the
time the fruit gets to the market.It takes a high amount of time to
ship the Abiu fruit but they stay fresh the whole time.
The wood of the abiu tree is dense, heavy, and hard and is used
as lumber in construction.
The fruit of the abiu tree is edible and is eaten out of hand in
most cases. In Colombia, it is advised that if you eat the fruit,
you grease your lips before eating it in order to keep the gummy
latex from sticking to their lips. The fruit of the abiu is also
used in ice cream. It can be cut up and put in yogurt for a light
and delicious breakfast. Another way to serve the abiu is to scoop
out the flesh and sprinkle a little limejuice on it to bring out the
flavor, and then chill it. There are not a lot of ways to serve the
abiu because it has a very subtle flavor and will be overcome by any
other fruit if it is added to a fruit salad.
In Brazil, people eat the fruit to relieve coughs, bronchitis,
and other pulmonary complaints, once the pulp has a mucilaginous
nature. Medically, it is used for many things such as adstringent,
anti-anemic, and anti-inflammatory. It can help to stop a fever,
stop diarrhea, stop coughs, and it also contains many helpful
The tree grows best in tropical areas and in places that have a
warm moist climate all year long. Propagation is nearly always by
seeds. The new seeds will germinate quickly if they are fresh. After
the seeds are planted, the tree will bear fruit in three or more
years. Grafting and air layering will also be used to reproduce the
upper strains of the plant.
A tree that has just been planted will be fragile and needs
protection from wind and cold weather. It only requires light
pruning and should be fed frequently, but lightly.
Pests and diseases
The fruit is often damaged by small insects, which is the reason
why it has very little value commercially. These small insects are
known as bichos in Spanish and Portuguese. In Brazil, the main pest
that destroys the plant is the fruit fly.