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Diospyros digyna - Jacq.

Common Name Black Sapote, Chocolate Pudding Tree
Family Ebenaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The unripe fruit is used as a fish poison[ 418 ].
Habitats Dry or wet mixed forest usually around sea level[ 331 ].
Range Northern S. America - Colombia, north through Central America to Guatemala.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Diospyros digyna Black Sapote, Chocolate Pudding Tree

Diospyros digyna Black Sapote, Chocolate Pudding Tree


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Black sapote or Diospyros digyna is a tropical fruit tree native to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and Colombia. It is also known as chocolate pudding fruit, chocolate persimmon, and zapote prieto. It is evergreen that can grow up to 25 m in height with trunk diameter of up to 45 cm. It has a rounded crown, black bark, and glossy, dark green leaves. Its fruit is consumed raw when fully ripe and/or cooked. Its flesh is dark chocolate brown to black in colour but somewhat sweet and rich in flavour. Immature fruits can also be eaten as vegetable when boiled. Bark and leaves are used medicinally in the treatment of fever and various skin conditions. Though not commonly used, the wood of black sapote is suitable for cabinet work.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Diospyros digyna is an evergreen Tree growing to 15 m (49ft) by 15 m (49ft) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Diospyros ebenaster Hiern Non Retz. Diospyros nigra (J.F.Gmelin.) Perrottet.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw or cooked[ 296 ]. Bitter and astringent when unripe, it should not be eaten until it is fully ripe and soft[ 303 , 331 ]. Soft, rich, dark chocolate brown in colour and somewhat sweet[ 301 ]. The black mushy flesh is repulsive in appearance, reminding one of dirty axle grease[ 331 ]. Rather bland, the fruit is best mashed with a little orange, lemon or lime juice and chilled before serving[ 296 , 301 ]. The immature fruit can be boiled and used as a vegetable[ 296 ]. The fruit is rather boring on its own, but delicious when used in smoothies, jams etc[ 296 ]. The dark olive-green fruit is a flattened globose to slightly lobed berry, 5 - 15cm in diameter[ 303 ]. The fruit turns a duller colour when ripe and the persistent calyx at the base, which is pressed against the developing fruit, becomes reflexed. At this stage the fruits are still firm. They soften 3 - 14 days after harvesting, individual fruits ripening suddenly and unpredictably within 24 hours[ 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.
Febrifuge  Skin

Various preparations of bark and leaves have been used medicinally against fever and skin disease[ 303 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Furniture  Wood

Other Uses: The wood is yellowish to deep-yellow with black markings near the heart of old trunks; it is compact and suitable for cabinetwork, but is little used[ 303 ]. The wood is reported to have the qualities of typical ebony[ 331 ].

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the moist tropics and subtropics. It can be grown at elevations up to 2,000 metres, but does best below 600 metres[ 303 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 27°c, but can tolerate 12 - 34°c[ 418 ]. Mature plants can be killed by temperatures of -2°c or lower, whilst young growth will be severely damaged at 0°c[ 418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,200 - 1,600mm, but tolerates 1,000 - 2,400mm[ 418 ]. Prefers a sunny position, tolerating some shade[ 418 ]. The tree adapts to different soil types and survives flooding, but it is rather sensitive to drought, requiring abundant irrigation in dry areas[ 303 ]. Plants are well adapted to calcareous soils[ 335 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 7, tolerating 5.5 - 7.5[ 418 ]. A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if fruit and seed are required[ 899 ]. Although dioecious, solitary planted female plants have been observed to produce seedless fruits in the absence of a male, and on rare occasions have produced fruit with fertile seeds[ 899 ]. Seedling trees commence bearing fruit when 5 - 6 years old, whilst grafted specimens can fruit when 2 - 3 years old[ 335 ]. Flowers are borne on the new shoots; hence the crop cycle is linked to flushing[ 303 ]. Some trees bear flowers that are self-incompatible, so it is not advisable to plant a solitary tree[ 303 ]. Fruit on cultivated trees is often seedless or nearly so[ 303 ]. Black persimmon is said to have 4 times the vitamin C content of sweet, and to be a good source of calcium and phosphorus. Response to the taste varies greatly between people, and the dark chocolate colour of the pulp is considered to be unattractive. Nevertheless, because the tree is robust, well-adapted to the tropics, and heavy-bearing, a close re-examination of its potential is merited[ 303 ]. There are some named varieties[ 301 ]. We have seen no individual confirmation for this species, but in general Diospyros species are dioecious and require both male and female forms to be grown if fruit and seed are required[ 899 ]. Flowering time: Mid Spring.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - commonly propagated from seed, which remains viable for several months if stored dry[ 303 ]. Seeds germinate in about 30 days[ 303 ]. As a rule fresh seeds have a high percentage of fertility. The seedlings develop long taproots at an early stage, often before any appreciable elongation of the shoot takes place. The growth of the seedling is decidedly slow [ 652 ]. Budding or grafting on seedling rootstocks is the way to propagate seedless types[ 303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Black Sapote, Chocolate Pudding Tree, Black Persimmon, Axle Grease Plant, Caca-poule, Chocolate pudding fruit, Ebano, Ebano, Guayabote, Mueque, Sapote negro, Tauch, Zapote negro, Zapote prieto, barbaquois black persimmon black sapote ebenholzbaum sapote negro schwarze sapote svart sapote zapote negro

Africa, Asia, Australia, Belize, Brazil, Caribbean, Central America*, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Hawaii, Honduras, Indonesia, Mauritius, Mexico*, Nicaragua, North America, Pacific, Panama, Philippines, Puerto Rico, SE Asia, Singapore, South America, USA, 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.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Diospyros celebicaIndonesian Ebony, black ebony, makassar-ebenholtsTree30.0 10-12 SLMHNM204
Diospyros conzattiiZapote negro mont's, zapotillo.Tree10.0 10-12 SLMHNDM402
Diospyros crassifloraBenin EbonyTree15.0 10-12 SLMHNM024
Diospyros ebenumEbony, Ceylon Ebony, Mauritius Ebony, Ebony PersimmonTree20.0 10-12 SLMHNM124
Diospyros kakiPersimmon, Japanese persimmonTree12.0 7-10 MLMHSNM433
Diospyros lotusDate PlumTree9.0 7-9 MLMHSNM512
Diospyros malabaricaIndian Persimmon, Gaub, Timbiri, Mountain ebonyTree35.0 10-12 SLMHFSNM134
Diospyros mespiliformisWest African Ebony, Monkey guava, jackalberryTree20.0 10-12 MLMHNM434
Diospyros munMun Ebony, Vietnamese EbonyTree15.0 10-12 SLMHNDM004
Diospyros quaesitaCalamander, kalu mediriyaTree30.0 10-12 SLMHNDM024
Diospyros tessellariaBlack ebony, Mauritian ebonyTree15.0 10-12 SLMHNM204
Diospyros texanumBlack PersimmonTree12.0 -  LMHSNM203
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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.


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Links / References

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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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