Sapodilla, also referred to as chico fruit, is a tropical fruit tree that can actually sustain low temperatures (-2C – -3C) for short periods of time, and today we'll show you how to grow sapodilla AKA chico fruit! This delicious fruit has plenty of other names such as Chicle, Sapota, Zapote chico, Sapodilla plum, and Naseberry.
You may have even recognize the name “Chicle” which refers to the latex that is excreted by the sapodilla fruit and used as a chewing gum base (Chiclets anyone?!?).
The scientific name for the chico fruit is Manilkara zapota. This evergreen tree is grown in large quantities in Thailand, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mexico, India, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
Sapodillas originated in the Yucatan peninsula, but has now spread throughout all of the Caribbean as well as Florida. Because the sapodilla fruit can sustain such low temperatures, you can grow your own tree almost anywhere you live as long as you create a semi-tropical environment. This means that you'll either need a greenhouse OR you'll need to grow sapodilla in a pot which can be moved inside. Keep reading to learn how to grow sapodilla!
The chico fruit tree can grow to more than 98 feet (30m) in height. The leaves are green and glossy, and the fruit is a large berry. The inside of a chico fruit ranges from a pale yellow to a dark, earthy brown. The consistency of the flesh is much like the consistency of a pear. Each fruit will usually contain anywhere from one to six seeds.
The flavor of the sapodilla is very sweet and malt-like. The unripe fruit is usually hard to the touch and will contain a high amount of saponin, which has astringent properties, similar to tannins, which can cause dry mouth.
If you're looking to grow sapodilla in a cold climate, think again! The chico fruit tree can only survive in tropical and subtropical climates. If temperatures drop below freezing, the tree will dye.
From the time of germination, the chico fruit will usually take anywhere from five to eight years to bear fruit. The tree will yield fruits twice a year.
How to Grow Sapodilla
Planting Sapodilla AKA Chico Fruit:
- You can find sapodilla seeds at your local nursery (depending on where you live) or online.
- Plant directly into the ground if the conditions are right, or plant in a pot.
- Use a good quality, well draining soil.
- Choose an area with plenty of sun, at least 6-8 hours per day.
- Push the seed into the soil about an inch deep and water.
- Once the tree germinates, be patient, as it may take 5-8 years for a sapodilla tree to start bearing fruits.
- Fertilize young trees with -8% nitrogen, 2-4% phosphoric acid, and 6-8% potash every two or three months with 1/4 pound and increasing gradually to 1 pound.
- Sapodilla trees are drought resistant, but water once a week if there is no rain.
- As long as the tree is protected from frost, the tree does not need a lot of care and you should expect fruits to bear!
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