A member of the Citrus family and distantly related to cultivated citrus, the Casimiroa genus
has ten species. Of them, Casimiroa edulis, White Sapote, has the greatest cultivation range. Of the many
regional cultivars developed, only a few are found in nurseries.
White Sapote is not related to Black Sapote (Diospyros digyna) of the Persimmon family nor to Mamey
Sapote (Pouteria sapota), one of the eggfruit trees of the Gutta Percha family.
Lifespan: 40-150 years.
Leaf retention: Evergreen, but cold- and drought-deciduous.
Growth rate: Rapid in spurts.
Mature Size: 15-50' high and as wide.
Flowers: Tiny, five greenish-yellow petals, clustered.
Bloom: Early to mid winter in regions without freezes.
It may bloom several times a year. Some cultivars bloom in alternate years.
Years before fruiting: Grafted, 3-4; seedlings 7-8.
Fruit: Thin, green skin with white flesh or thin orange-yellow skin
with yellow flesh, variable in shape and size, can resemble an apple, 1-6" diameter, tastes like peach,
pineapple, banana or vanilla custard, especially when soft. The skin is bitter on some cultivars.
Eating the fruit can induce drowsiness.
Months for fruit to ripen: 6-9. Best flavor when tree-ripened, but
many often fall to the ground first, and should be harvested early. Unripe fruit must not be bruised
because the flesh will become blackened and bitter under the bruise. Fruit continue to ripen after harvest.
Some cultivars should be harvested when soft, others when hard. Remove from tree by cutting the stem with
clippers. The stem falls off the fruit when ripe.
Storage after harvest: Ripen at room temperature. Store ripe fruit
up to 7-10 days in the refrigerator.
Leaves: Reddish new growth turning to glossy green, 3-7 lance-shaped
leaflets joined at base, dense shade.
Stems: No thorns. Branches are somewhat brittle and should not be
Roots: Tap root, invasive side roots spread beyond the drip line.
C. edulis 'Pike' is often used as a rootstock due to its vigorous growth.
Cultivars of Note:
'Chico' Medium sized, sweet, brown sugar-pear flavor, skin
ripens to light tan.
'Lemon Gold' Green skin ripens to pale yellow, yellow flesh,
excellent flavor with hint of lemon, uniform appearance, fruit ripens well when
picked immature, keeps well when ripe, moderate crops, less vigorous tree.
'Redland' Medium sized, sweet, round fruit.
'Suebelle' Yellow skin, sweet flesh with vanilla custard flavor,
variable sized fruit usually small, harvest when soft, 15-20' high tree,
bears nearly all year.
Wildlife: Flowers attract insects. Fruit attracts birds and mammals.
Toxic / Danger: Seeds are poisonous.
Origin: Mexico and Central America.
Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 9b-11. Mature trees are hardy to 25°F,
young trees to 30°F. These trees prefer dry, not humid, climates.
Chill hours: None.
Heat tolerant: Needs afternoon shade above 80°F.
Sun: Full sun except afternoon shade in hot climates.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Water after becoming established: Every 3-4 weeks. Do not grow near
frequently watered lawns. Infrequent deep watering is best to discourage shallow roots that can heave
Soil: Very well drained, tolerant otherwise, pH 5.6-7.8 (slightly
acidic to slightly alkaline). Only slightly salt tolerant.
Fertilize: Treat as a citrus tree, only use one-half as much.
Mulch: Use 2-6" compost to retain moisture. Keep 8" away from trunk.
Spacing: This tree should be placed at least 15' away from any structure or other tree.
Planting: 'Suebelle' can be grown in a very large container.
First Year Care: Remove any flowers after initial planting. Pinch off
terminal bud to encourage branching. Use 50% all day shade for the first three years to reduce heat stress
and leaf drop in hot climates. A shade cloth canopy is recommended.
Prune: Remove any branches that are too horizontal or too vertical
to avoid weak branching. Do not remove lower limb branches. Remove any weeds or plants growing under
Litter: Moderate. Messy fruit if not harvested.
Propagation: Grafted cuttings. Seed must be planted within 3 weeks
of removal from fruit and does not grow true to parent.
Pests: Aphids and scale.
Uses: Ornamental, shade, edible fruit.
Cultivar 'Suebelle' is considered one of the best fruit trees for the California garden.
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