SAPODILLA - Chicozapote

Sapodillas, Manilkara zapota, produce one of the tropic's most delicious fruits, which are eaten raw. Especially farther south in the Yucatan where there's more rainfall Sapodillas fairly commonly occurs in deep forest, but in the most arid parts of northern Yucatan they are only planted. You can see a tree's leathery, green leaves and fruits below:


SAPODILLA trunkIn the forest there's an interesting way to identify a Sapodilla tree by its trunk. A typical deep-forest trunk is shown at the right. Do you see those diagonal slashes across the trunk? That's the way you know it's a Sapodilla. I've never seen a deep-forest Sapodilla tree without those slashes.

That's because Sapodilla latex coagulates into chicle gum, which for many years was the base for chewing gum. Most chewing gums nowadays are made of synthetic compounds but in 1930 US companies imported about 15 million pounds (6.8 million kilos) of chicle gum. The slashes indicate that not too long ago backwoods Maya were still slashing Sapodilla trunks to collect the chicle sap that oozed from the wounds.