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Pouteria sapota - (Jacq.) H.E.Moore & Stearn

Common Name Sapote, Mamey Sapote
Family Sapotaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The seed has stupefying properties, and this may be due to its HCN content[303 ]. One is cautioned not to rub the eyes after handling the green fruit because of the sap exuding from the cut or broken stalk[303 ]. The milky sap of the tree is highly irritant to the eyes and caustic and vesicant on the skin[303 ]. The leaves are reportedly poisonous[303 ].(Seed is poisonous if ingested Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction )
Habitats Humid lowland woodland[307 ].
Range C. America - Panama to Mexico.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Pouteria sapota Sapote, Mamey Sapote

Pouteria sapota Sapote, Mamey Sapote


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A native to Mexico and Central America, Pouteria sapota or commonly known as Mamey Sapote is a popular fruit tree that is now cultivated throughout Central America, the Caribbean, and South Florida. It is a large species, growing about 15-45 m tall. Main propagation is through grafting to preserve the characteristics of the parent plant and for faster growth. The fruit is eaten raw and made into desserts and drinks. It is ovoid in shape with sweet almond-like flavor. The seeds are milled to prepare a bitter chocolate. Medicinally, seed oil is used as skin ointment, for preventing hair fall, and as a sedative in ear and eye ailments while the seeds itself is used for digestive problems, coronary troubles, and epilepsy. Milky sap is used to remove warts and fungal growths on skin. Seed oil is also used in soap, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical products. The wood is used for cabinet making, furniture, carts, shelves, and house frames.

Physical Characteristics

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Pouteria sapota is an evergreen Tree growing to 25 m (82ft) by 25 m (82ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10 and is frost tender.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Achradelpha mammosa Cook. Calocarpum sapota (Jacq.) Merr. Lucuma mammosa Auct. Pouteria mammosa (L.)

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Chocolate  Drink  Oil  Tea

The ripe fruit is eaten raw, made into sherbets, ice cream, drinks etc and can also be dried[301 ]. Unripe fruits are cooked as a vegetable[301 ]. The pulp of the ripe fruit is salmon-red to reddish-brown in colour, it has a firm, finely granular texture and a rich, sweet almond-like flavour[301 , 303 ]. The ovoid fruit varies in size from 8 - 20cm long[303 ]. The fruit of most cultivars tends to weigh within the range of 500 - 1,000g[200 ], though they can weigh up to 2.7 kilos[303 ]. Seeds[331 ]. They have a flavour similar to bitter almonds[331 ]. The ground up seeds are added to texate, made into a confection or mixed with cornmeal, sugar and cinnamon to make a nutritious beverage called pozol[301 ]. The seed can be milled to prepare a bitter chocolate[303 ]. The seed kernel yields 45 to 60% of a white, semi-solid, vaseline-like oil which is edible when freshly extracted and refined[303 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Anthelmintic  Antirheumatic  Astringent  Bitter  Digestive  Diuretic  Emetic  Epilepsy  
Hypotensive  Kidney  Ophthalmic  Pectoral  Poultice  Skin

The seed kernel oil is used as a skin ointment and as a hair dressing that is believed to stop falling hair[303 ]. In 1970, clinical tests at the University of California at Los Angeles failed to reveal any hair-growth promoting activity but confirmed that the oil of sapote seed is effective in stopping hair-fall caused by seborrhoeic dermatitis[303 ]. The oil is said to be diuretic and is also employed as a sedative in eye and ear ailments[303 ]. The seed residue, after oil extraction, is applied as a poultice on painful skin afflictions[303 ]. The seed kernel is regarded as a digestive[303 ]. A seed infusion is used as an eyewash[303 ]. The pulverized seed coat is reported to be a remedy for coronary trouble and, taken with wine, is said to be helpful against kidney stones and rheumatism[303 ]. The Aztecs employed it against epilepsy[303 ]. The bark is bitter and astringent and contains lucumin, a cyanogenic glycoside[303 ]. A decoction of the bark is taken as a pectoral. A tea of the bark and leaves is administered in arteriosclerosis and hypertension[303 ]. The milky sap is emetic and anthelmintic and has been used to remove warts and fungal growths on the skin[303 ]

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Cosmetic  Furniture  Hair  Oil  Soap making  Wood

Large shade tree. Public open space. Specimen. Backyard tree. Other Uses: It has been used to fix the colours on painted gourds and other articles of handicraft[303 ]. (The part used is not specified[K ].) The seed kernel yields 45 to 60% of a white, semi-solid, vaseline-like oil which is edible when freshly extracted and refined. It is sometimes used in soap and considered to have a greater potential in the soap industry, in cosmetics and pharmaceutical products[303 ]. It is also used as a hair dressing, and is said to promote the growth of the hair and prevent it falling out[331 ]. The very smooth seeds were formerly much used in Central America for smoothing starched linen, like an iron, and it is stated that they are still used for this purpose in Guatemala[331 ]. The trees are seldom cut for timber, unless they bear poor quality fruit[303 ]. There is very little sapwood. The heartwood is buff or brown when fresh, becoming reddish with age; sometimes resembles mahogany but is redder and more or less mottled with darker tones. It is fine-grained, compact, generally hard and fairly heavy, strong, easy to work and fairly durable. It is rated as suitable for cabinetwork and is made into furniture, but mostly serves for building carts, and for shelving and house frames[303 ].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

It can succeed in the lowland moist tropics or subtropics up to elevations of 1,400 metres[303 ]. In its native range, the average temperature ranges between 25 and 28°c, though good yields and fruit quality can be obtained at temperatures between 30 and 33°c[303 ]. It is very intolerant of low temperatures, being quickly damaged or killed if temperatures drop much below 2°c[303 ]. It grows well in areas where the mean annual rainfall varies from 800 - 2,500mm[303 ]. It is very susceptible to drought[200 ]. It grows well in maritime areas, where it shows good wind resistance[200 ]. Prefers a rich, deep, moist soil and a position in full sun[307 ]. Tolerant of a wide range of soil types, including sandy and clay soils[200 ]. Requires a very well-drained soil[200 ]. Tolerates a pH in the range 5 - 7[200 ]. Seedling trees begin to bear fruit after 7 years or longer, whilst grafted trees begin to bear in 3 to 5 years[303 ]. It takes from 13 - 24 months for fruit to reach maturity and so trees may have flowers, immature fruit and mature fruit all at the same time[303 ]. The sapote is a very prolific cropper, mature trees may bear 200 to 500 fruit per year, whilst twice this amount may be obtained from large trees[303 ]. There are some named varieties[200 , 301 ]. Bloom Color: Pale Yellow White/Near White. Spacing: 30-40 ft. (9-12 m).

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - remove it from its husk before sowing[200 ]. The seed has a short viability of only 7 - 14 days[303 ]. Seeds should be collected from mature fruit and planted immediately in well-drained media[303 ]. Seeds which have a hairline crack in the seed coat appear to germinate more quickly[303 ]. Side-grafting. Air-layering may be possible[200 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Chico-mamey, Ciko mama, Green sapote, Mamei, Mamey colorado, Marmalade plum, Saeda, Tru'ng ga, Zapote, sabúdi.

Belize; Costa Rica; El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama, Asia, Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Central America, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, East Timor, El Salvador, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guiana, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, Hispaniola, Honduras, Indochina, Indonesia, Jamaica, Malaysia, Martinique, Mexico*, Nicaragua, North America, Pacific, Panama, Philippines, Puerto Rico, SE Asia, Sierra Leone, South America, St Lucia, Suriname, Timor-Leste, USA, Venezuela, Vietnam, West Africa, West Indies,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

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Pouteria campechianaCanistel, EggfruitTree15.0 10-12 FLMHNDMWe422
Pouteria guianensisAsepoko.Tree25.0 10-12 MLMHNM202
Pouteria pierreiAningeriaTree30.0 10-12 MLMHNM204

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(Jacq.) H.E.Moore & Stearn

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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