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White sapotes (photo courtesy of Doreen L. Wynja)
White sapotes (photo courtesy of Doreen L. Wynja)

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Zones 8, 9, 14-16, 18-24, H1, H2
Full Sun
Regular Water

White Sapote

Deciduous, Evergreen, Edible fruit, Trees

Beautiful tropical tree, botanically known as Casimiroa edulis. This native to Mexico withstands more cold than most avocados and does well wherever oranges are grown. May become partially deciduous in frosty or very hot weather. Grows to 25–50 ft. tall and 25–30 ft. wide, with luxuriant glossy green leaves divided fanwise into three to seven oval, 3–5-in.-long leaflets. Heavy crop of round, 3–4-in. fruit with pale green to yellow skin and white or creamy yellow flesh with custardlike consistency and tropical flavor. California varieties include ‘Lemon Gold’, ‘Louise’, ‘McDill’, ‘Suebelle’, and ‘Vernon’. ‘Denzler’ is grown in Hawaii.

Roots are invasive; choose planting location carefully. To keep the tree lower and create a wide, umbrellalike crown, pinch out terminal bud. Needs consistent feeding. Fruit tastes best when allowed to ripen on the tree, but it usually drops before reaching ripeness. Pick it when firm-ripe, at which point the flavor is mellow and sweet. (Some varieties become sweeter if left to stand at room temperature; others turn bitter.) To harvest, cut from the tree, leaving a small piece of stem attached; pick carefully to avoid bruising. Eat with a spoon. Mature tree may produce several hundred pounds of fruit, far more than any one family can use. Cleanup becomes a chore, so plant where dropping fruit can be raked up or disappear into a groundcover.

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