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Manilkara zapota - Sapodillo


Native to:



Central America and Colombia.

Tropical forests. Up to 1600 meters in elevation, some fruit at elevations up to 2500. 20 meter tall tree.

Manilkara zapota  - Sapodillo

Ecological value:

Provides fruit for wildlife. Shade tree. Wind resistant. Prefers full sun. Moderately resistant to salty soils. One of few fruiting trees that tolerates poor soils. Attracts honeybees.
Wind pollinated.

Material uses:

Wood, strong and durable, resistant to insects. Traditionally used as supporting beams in Mayan temples, contemporarily used in construction, railway ties, furniture, joinery and handles. Tree sap turns to latex is used in chewing gum, in transmission belts and as dentistry fillings.

Edible uses:

Large pale brown berries start around 5-8 years of age. Berries are sweet and can be eaten raw or cooked. Has a high yield of fruit, 2500-3000 per year in its life time of about 30 years.

Medicinal use:

Decoction of young fruit treats diarrhea. Infusion of the young fruits and the flowers relieves pulmonary complaints. Decoction of old, yellowed leaves treats coughs, colds and diarrhea.

Other details:

Flowers year round. Large hook-like seeds could get stuck in throat. Pouteria is a close relative of the genus Manikara. Trees in this genus all provide fruit, latex and timber. Best known species in the Americas are M. bidentata (balatá), M. chicle (chicle) and M. zapota (sapodilla).


Amy Feng/Christine Facella


“Manilkara Zapota - Useful Tropical Plants.” n.d.
Facciola. S., ‘Cornucopia II’, Kampong Publications, California, 1998
Mors W.B.; Rizzini C.T.; Pereira N.A. , ‘Medicinal Plants of Brazil’, Reference Publications; Michigan, 2000
Luis Salinas-Peba and Víctor Parra-Tabla ‘Phenology and pollination of Manilkara zapota in forest and homegardens’, Forest Ecology and Management , 2007
“Search Tree Collections.” n.d. Accessed November 25, 2023.
Image source: HK Arun.

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