Saturday, May 28, 2011

White, Black, Yellow: the Sapotes of Mexico

These three subtropical fruits are delicious, sweet, juicy, rare, genuinely Mexican and very little known, three fruits that in time will surely come to be marketed worldwide to become ever faster communications, as one of the limitations for transport is the lack of consistency of ripe fruit. Belong to three different botanical families. The black sapote, Diospyros digyna, belongs to the Ebenaceae family. The Yellow Sapote, Pouteria campechiana is a Sapotaceae. And the White Zapote, Casimiroa edulis, is part of the Rutaceae family.


The fruits of black sapote have the typical form and structure of Ebenaceae. At a distance could be confused with the Asian persimmon fruits. The surprise comes from the middle to one of its fruits. The pulp in the optimal stage of maturity is nearly black, shining like jet and creamy. Remember the chocolate mousse.

 Its maturation is very fast as a few hours hard and white pulp of immature fruit softens and darkens. His little consistency is precisely one of the obstacles to their market outside of Mexico. Come to recognize the right time to harvest the fruits ripen on the very day they arrive at the consumer market is one of the challenges to overcome.

In this image of three ripe fruit cut in half in various stages of maturation can be seen as the flesh darkens, the most mature on the right.

Enlarging the picture with a double click is better appreciated the creamy texture of the flesh of a shiny jet black color very similar to chocolate mousse. Its flavor is very sweet and reminiscent of burnt sugar fund an egg custard with a touch of honey. We can eat a teaspoon. In the center is three to five seeds. When a tree is dioecious there are male and female feet. As with the persimmons grown trees which are all female, without pollinating the fruits of black sapote mature parthenocarpicaly, presenting in its interior several empty seeds aborted.

The fruits that have been pollinated produce bright brown seeds should be sown immediately because they quickly lose their ability to germinate.

Planted about 20 to 25 ° C germinate within a few days.

Some 14 months later the black sapote previous photo measures approximately 70 cms. The Mediterranean climate without frost is very suitable for cultivation. Can thrive without problems in all areas where citrus and persimmons.


The yellow sapote lives up to its name. For me it is one of the most delicious fruits of Mexico. No need to peel. His skin is very thin and can eat by biting. The center has several elongated seeds dark brown, which quickly lose their ability to germinate, so it should be sown immediately. Its scientific name Pouteria campechiana refers to the Campeche region of Mexico where the fruit originates.

Young yellow sapote of three years old grown on a citrus orchard in Majorca. Tube is drip irrigation. To be able to withstand the hot and dry summer of Mallorca needs irrigation weekly. It also appreciates the contribution of well rotted manure of horse, cow or sheep.

The leaves are light green lanceolate with the distal part wider than the proximal. Yellow sapote is more chilly than black Zapote. If the winter temperature drops to -1 or -2 degrees C, the leaves will burn slightly more exposed. Then at the end of spring regrowth without problems.


The white sapote is perhaps one of the most cultivated sapotes outside Mexico. It is not difficult to find for sale in Spanish nurseries, especially in Andalusia, across the Levant region and the Balearic Islands. A Santander´s farmer told me that in Cantabria coast grows well and gives high yields. Is perhaps the least chilly of three Mexican sapotes. His strategy to withstand winter frosts is to behave as deciduous. Thus in the colder months it loses its leaves and wait until temperatures rise in spring. On the coast of Mallorca, if no frost, white sapote behaves like evergreen and keeps its leaves in winter.

White sapote fine specimen 12 years old and about 5 feet grown in a citrus orchard in Majorca. Each year produces a large crop of fruit that will mature over several months. It is a seedless variety.

If winter is mild with temperatures above 5 º C in late January emerges forcefully with beautiful leaves of a deep red color.

 A month later, in February, blooms profusely. The flowers are small and grouped in clusters.

Detail of a flower of white sapote the typical structure of the Rutaceae, much like the flowers of citrus and rue plant.

White sapote trunk bark covered with typical white spots. The specimen has been grafted. It follows by the narrowing in the upper trunk that corresponds to the point of the graft.

Typical white sapote bark of a gray-green cover of white spots.

White sapote ripe fruit that crack when they reach full maturity. To find out if they are mature should be tightened with fingers, because its green color remains unchanged. One of the problems of these fruits are falling from the tree as they mature. It is best to collect them when the pulp is still hard. They tend to mature a few days.

The pulp has a delicious bright white. It is very juicy and overly sweet. The fruit is a seedless cultivar. We will see the aborted seeds in the fruit of the top of the photo. Viable seeds of wild trees are large and elongated. They are much more perishable than those of yellow and black sapote. If we are not allowed to dry after removing them from the fruits and planted immediately to a temperature above 20 º C in less than a week germinate. It is a very fast growing tree.


  1. Hi,

    I've tried to germinate some 'black sapote' seeds, but none of them seem to germinate, even though the seller said they were still fresh.
    Have you got any idea where to buy fresh seeds or plants (Diospyros Digyna) in Europe?
    Thanks in advance!

    S. Polleunis

  2. Hi

    For years, I bought black sapote seeds online, but none was fresh and did not germinate. One day, exchanging messages in a forum for gardening, a Mexican man offered me to send fresh seeds. He sent me them by express mail. When I received them I planted. All seeds germinated inmediately.

    The forum is Infojardin and the subforum of exchange of seeds is:

    Best Regards: Juan

  3. Hi,

    Thanks a lot for the link.
    I have bought my seeds from someone in the US, he told me that they were about 1 month old.

    Apparently he got them from someone in Florida, but the few ones that I dissected looked far from viable.
    I just have to figure out how the site works (infojardin), I hardly understand Spanish.
    So your black sapote tree(-s) is/are still small?
    Is the harvesting season still going on? (Mexico?)

    Best regards,

    S. Polleunis

  4. Yes, my black sapote trees are very young. Only one have a few fruits for first time but without seeds.

    In Forum Infojardin you can use a translator. I use the Google translator for answer you.

    Best Regards: Juan

  5. Hello i need to purchase black, yellow and white sapote seeds.. where can I buy from?

  6. Hello Ganesh:

    All these seeds have a very short viability. Once taken out of the fruit only retain viability for 5 or 6 days. It is best to get the fruits and remove the seeds just before planting.

    My white sapote is a seedless variety. I bought the trees in a plant nursery in Majorca. This Majorcan plant nursery adquire every spring the tropical plants from a plant nursery of Andalusia in southern of Spain. This is its website:

    My black sapotes are very young. I got the seeds through a Mexican who visited my website and he wanted that I had a Mexican tree in my garden. He sent me the seeds by express mail from Mexico. I don´t remember his name. I am sorry.

    My yellow sapote was sent to me in a small flowerpot from Portugal by a man fond of tropical trees. I have lost contact with this man. Sorry. He is a university professor in Lisbon. The two fruits that it can see in my blog are from a Canarian orchard near a road of Tenerife.

    My advice to you is to enter a plants forum and ask there if someone can send you fresh seeds of these three sapotes.

    A good Forum is this:

    Best Regards

  7. Hello, I need to buy seeds zapote black, where can I buy?

    I am awaiting a response.
    amarildo.monavie @

  8. Here you can buy seeds. You have to find chocolate sapote.

    I have no seed of this tree and not sell anything.


  9. I've never tasted Black & White Zapote....but I I know White Zapote is hard as Lemon, so it thrive in costal zone, but how much resistant is Black Zapote? I should ripe the fruit for one this a problem with low (but not freezing) temperatures in Winter?

    1. Black Zapote is less resistant to cold than the White Zapote. It suffers a bit with the cold of winter, but withstands light frosts.