Diospyros nigra, the black sapote, is a species of persimmon. Common names include chocolate pudding fruit, black soapapple and (in Spanish) zapote prieto. The tropical fruit tree is native to Mexico, Central America, and Colombia. The common name sapote refers to any soft, edible fruit. Black sapote is not related to white sapote nor mamey sapote.
Mature trees can grow to over 25 m (82 ft) in height and are evergreen. It is frost sensitive but can tolerate light frosts. The leaves are elliptic-oblong, tapered at both ends, dark green, glossy and 10–30 cm (3.9–11.8 in) long. Some trees bear only male flowers. Others have both male and female flowers, though some of these are self-incompatible. Fruiting takes about 3–4 years from seed and the trees are heavy bearers.
Black sapote fruit are tomato-like and measure 5–10 cm (2.0–3.9 in) in diameter, with an inedible skin that turns from olive to a deep yellow-green when ripe and a pulp which is white and inedible when unripe but assumes a flavor, color and texture often likened to chocolate pudding when ripe. Fruits usually contain seeds, up to a maximum of 12. The texture has been likened to that of a papaya. Boning (2006) describes the ripe fruit as having "the taste and consistency of chocolate pudding."
Unripe fruits are astringent, caustic, bitter, irritating, and have been used as fish poison in the Philippines.
Propagation is usually from seed, which can retain viability for several months and require around 30 days for germination. Some trees are seedless however, and can be propagated by air-layering or shield budding.
Black sapote trees are normally found below 600 meters, but are not particular about soil, and can tolerate light frosts. They are sensitive to drought, requiring irrigation in dry areas, but are quite tolerant of flooding. The tree grows fairly slowly for the first 3–4 years, perhaps just 1 foot/year for the first couple of years. Later however it grows much more rapidly. Trees should be spaced 10-12m apart.
The range in size of tree and hairiness of leaves; size, shape, seediness, flesh color and sweetness of fruit; and time of fruiting suggest that considerable genetic variability exists. Selections have been made and propagated in the Philippines, Australia, and Florida, USA.
Seedless cultivars exist, such as 'Cuevas'.
'Cocktail' is described as having excellent flavor.
'Mérida' (also 'Reineke' or 'Reinecke') is named after the origin of its seed. It produces 70 kg or more of very sweet, small to medium-sized fruit of very good quality with 5-10 seeds, beginning 6–8 weeks earlier than other varieties (November in Florida).
'Manilla' and 'Valesca' have few seeds.
- The unrelated fruits, mamey sapote (Sapotaceae) and the white sapote (Rutaceae).
- List of culinary fruits
- Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) & IUCN SSC Global Tree Specialist Group (2019). "Diospyros nigra". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2019: e.T173620A146792255. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
- "Diospyros nigra (J.F.Gmel.) Perrier". The Plant List. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
- Morton, Julia (1987). "Black Sapote". Fruits of warm climates. p. 416. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
- Diospyros digyna in the AgroForestryTree Database Archived 2014-12-23 at the Wayback Machine
- Boning, Charles R. (2006). Florida's Best Fruiting Plants: Native and Exotic Trees, Shrubs, and Vines. Sarasota, Florida: Pineapple Press, Inc. p. 43.
- Janick, Jules; Paull, Robert (2008), "Diospyros digyna black sapote", The Encyclopedia of Fruit & Nuts, p. 324, ISBN 0-85199-638-8
- Black Sapote Growing in the Florida Home Landscape, Univ. Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), 2005, retrieved 2013-03-03
- Daley's Fruit: Black Sapote, 2013, retrieved 2013-03-03
- Campbell, Carl; Popenoe, John; Malo, Simon (1988), "'Merida', AN EARLY-MATURING BLACK SAPOTE CULTIVAR" (PDF), Proc. Fla. State. Hort. Soc., 101: 245–246, retrieved 2013-03-03
- "Diospyros nigra". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
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