Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

sapodilla sapotilla, sapodilla plum, sopota, zapote, chico sapote, chiku/ciku, naseberry, and even tree potato, are all names for the fruit of Manilkara zapota, a medium-sized evergreen tree native to Mexico and C. America. The Aztec name zapotl gave rise to the whole group of names such as zapote and sapodilla, the wide use of which can be confusing: see sapota.

The tree, which also produces the gum chicle, from which chewing gum is made, was cultivated in the region long before the arrival of the Spaniards. Lintels made from its timber have been found in Mayan ruins dating from about AD 470. The Spaniards liked the fruit and introduced it to the Philippines, whence it spread gradually through SE Asia, reaching India in the 19th century. Cultivation began in Australia more recently.