White sapote (Casimiroa edulis), also known as cochitzapotl in
Nahuatl (meaning '"sleep-sapote") is a species of tropical fruiting
tree in the family Rutaceae, native to eastern Mexico and Central
America south to Costa Rica. Mature trees range from 5–16 m tall and
are evergreen. The leaves are alternate, palmately compound with 3-5
leaflets, the leaflets 6–13 cm long and 2.5–5 cm broad with an
entire margin, and the leaf petiole 10–15 cm long. The fruit is an
ovoid drupe, 5–10 cm in diameter, with a thin, inedible skin turning
from green to yellow when ripe, and an edible pulp, which can range
in flavor from bland to banana-like to peach to pear to vanilla .The pulp can be creamy-white in green
skin varieties or a beige-yellow in yellow skin varieties and has a
smooth texture similar to ripe avocado. It contains from one to five
seeds that are said to have narcotic properties.
In the past 40 years, extensive experiments have been carried out
on the white sapote's seeds which have yielded the identity of many
pharmacologically active compounds, including: n-methylhistamine, n-dimethylhistamine,
zapotin and histamine.
Eating the fruit has long been known to produce drowsiness, as
noted by Francisco Hernandez de Toledo in the 16th century. Although
Europeans were not the first to note this quality, they destroyed
the 99% of the pre-extant literature of Mesoamerica. The Nahuatl
name itself is a record of the fact that people knew the plant
Unlike the mamey sapote, white sapote is a member of the family
Rutaceae, to which citrus belongs. The black sapote is also
unrelated and is actually a species of persimmon. This confusion may
be because "sapote" comes from the Nahuatl (Aztec) word tzapotl,
used to describe all soft, sweet fruit. Commonly grown in Northern
NSW, Australia and often mistaken for a Persimon, of which there is
no scientific connection between these two fruits.
Several recent studies have shown Zapotin to have an
anti-carcinogenic effect against colon cancer.
Apple sized fruit with white or yellow creamy, custardy pulp that
has an excellent sweet banana flavor. White sapote's are well known
throughout much of Central America and Mexico.
Description: A medium to large tree which can grow up to 50+ feet
high. The small flowers are formed in large groups and may occur off
and on a few times per year, with fruit ripening 6-8 months later.
There are green skinned varieties, yellow skinned varieties, and
many in between. Pick fruits as they begin to soften, but do not
wait too long as fallen fruits tend to smash when they drop due to
their soft flesh. Mature trees can produce hundreds of pounds of
fruit every year.
Hardiness: The white sapote is subtropical to tropical, surviving
temperatures to 22F for short periods of time.
Growing Environment: White Sapote's prefer a climate with
moderate humidity, though trees have performed well in high-humidity
area such as Hawaii. It colder areas, white sapotes do well in sunny
locations, it warmer areas shade may be provided. Water often,
although trees can withstand short periods of drought. White
sapote's have large tap root systems that require deep soil. Only
trees with trimmed roots (or cuttings) can be container grown.
Propagation: Better varieties are usually propagated by grafting
or budding, which produce fruit in 3-4 years. Seedling trees produce
in 6-8 years.
Uses: Fruits are excellent when eaten ripe. Unripe fruits have a
bitter taste, and flesh very near the skin can sometimes have a
bitter taste. Usually the flesh is scooped out with a spoon and
Native Range: Native to the highlands of Central Mexico. Grown
commercially in Mexico, parts of Central America, and occasionally