Black Sapote - Diospyros digyna  Jacq.
A ripe, jumbo and seedless Black Sapote (Diospyros digyna / Ebenaceae) from a seedling tree in Palm Bay, Florida.
Fig. 1 magnifying glass
A ripe, jumbo and seedless Black Sapote (Diospyros digyna / Ebenaceae) from a seedling tree in Palm Bay, Florida.

A ripe, jumbo and seedless Black Sapote (Diospyros digyna / Ebenaceae) from a seedling tree in Palm Bay, Florida, is shown here cut in half vertically.
Fig. 5 magnifying glass
A ripe, jumbo and seedless Black Sapote (Diospyros digyna / Ebenaceae) from a seedling tree in Palm Bay, Florida, is shown here cut in half vertically.

A ripe, jumbo and seedless Black Sapote (Diospyros digyna / Ebenaceae) from a seedling tree in Palm Bay, Florida, compared with three common Black Sapotes from three different trees.
Fig. 6 magnifying glass
A ripe, jumbo and seedless Black Sapote (Diospyros digyna / Ebenaceae) from a seedling tree in Palm Bay, Florida, compared with three common Black Sapotes from three different trees.

The vertically cut halves of a ripe, jumbo and seedless Black Sapote (Diospyros digyna / Ebenaceae) from a seedling tree in Palm Bay, Florida, is compared with the same of a oval shaped common Black Sapote.
Fig. 7 magnifying glass
The vertically cut halves of a ripe, jumbo and seedless Black Sapote (Diospyros digyna/Ebenaceae) from a seedling tree in Palm Bay, Florida, is compared with the same of a oval shaped common Black Sapote.

The vertically cut half of a ripe, jumbo and seedless Black Sapote (Diospyros digyna / Ebenaceae) from a seedling tree in Palm Bay, Florida, along with the same from three common Black Sapotes are compared with a 1in (2.5cm) diameter coin.
Fig. 8 magnifying glass
The vertically cut half of a ripe, jumbo and seedless Black Sapote (Diospyros digyna / Ebenaceae) from a seedling tree in Palm Bay, Florida, along with the same from three common Black Sapotes are compared with a 1in (2.5cm) diameter coin.

Seeds
Fig. 9 magnifying glass

Whole and opened ripe fruits
Fig. 10 magnifying glass
Whole and opened ripe fruits

Flowers
Fig. 11 magnifying glass
Flowers forming

Flower
Fig. 12 magnifying glass
Flower

Diospyros digyna Jacq.
Fig. 14 magnifying glass

Leaves
Fig. 15 magnifying glass
Leaves

Tree
Fig. 16 magnifying glass
Tree

Trunk
Fig. 17 magnifying glass
Trunk

Base of trunk
Fig. 18 magnifying glass

Seeds sprout right inside the fruit
Fig. 19 magnifying glass
Seeds sprout right inside the fruit

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Scientific name
Diospyros digyna Jacq.
Common names
Chocolate Pudding Fruit, Chocolate Persimmon, and black persimmon (English), sapote negro, zapote prieto, and matasano de mico (Spanish)
Synonyms
D. edulis Lodd.; D. nigra Blanco; D. obtusifolia Willd.; D. obtusifolia Kunth D. pauciflora C.B.Rob. [Illegitimate]; D. revoluta Poir.; D. sapota Roxb. [Illegitimate]; D. sapotanigera DC.; D. tliltzapotl Sessé & Moç.; Sapota nigra J.F.Gmel. 4
Relatives
Persimmon (Diospyros kaki Linn), velvet apple/Mabolo (Diospyros blancoi A. DC.)
Family
Ebenaceae
Origin
Mexico and Central America
USDA hardiness zones
10b
Uses
Fruit; shade tree
Height
Medium 25-30ft (7.5-9m) to large trees 30-80ft (9-24m)
Crown
Round and dense
Canopy
Thick, broad and irregular
Growth rate
The tree grows fairly slowly for the first 3–4 years, perhaps just 1 foot/year for the first couple of years.[2] Later however it grows much more rapidly 3
Pruning requirement
Large tree that needs pruning for ease of harvest
Leaves
Evergreen leaves are alternate, oblong, leathery, 4-12in (10-30cm) long, glossy, and dark green
Flowers
Arise in leaf axils and may be either hermaphroditic (possessing male and female plant parts) or male
Fruit
Oblate to globose, 2-6in (5-15cm) in diameter,with dark olive-green to bright green peel and a persistent green calyx
Season
December through February or June through August. Large trees may produce several hundred pounds a year
Light requirement
Full sun
Soil tolerances
Grows well in well drained soils, sand and limestone-bases
PH preference
5.5-7.0
Drought tolerance
Sensitive to drought but quite tolerant of flooding 3
Soil salt tolerance
Low
Cold tolerance
Not cold tolerant, young trees will be killed at 30°F (-1°C) and mature trees at 28°F (-2°C)
Plant spacing
Trees should be spaced 39.3-32.8 ft (10-12m) apart 5
Invasive potential *
None reported
Pest resistance
At present there are no major insect pests and diseases of black sapote in Florida

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Reading Material

Growing Black Sapote in the Florida Home Landscape from the University of Florida pdf 5 pages
Cultural Calendar for the Black Sapote from the University of Florida
Black Sapote from Julia Morton's book Fruits of Warm Climates
Chocolate Fruit for South Florida from Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden



Origin

The black sapote is native along both coasts of Mexico from Jalisco to Chiapas, Veracruz and Yucatan and in the forested lowlands of Central America, and it is frequently cultivated throughout this range. 3

Description
Black sapote trees are adapted to tropical and warm subtropical areas and may be planted from sea level to an altitude of about 6,000 ft. Trees appear to tolerate moderately windy areas, and if pruned regularly to limit tree size and open the canopy to wind movement can withstand hurricane- force winds without toppling. 1

Flowers
Black sapote is usually dioecious, meaning that some trees produce only male flowers and no fruit and other trees produce female or bisexual flowers and fruit. Some trees may produce both male and female (or bisexual) flowers on the same tree. 1

Flowering Sapote (Diospyros digyna)
Fig. 13 magnifying glass

Fruit
Immature fruit are hard with a yellowish-orange pulp, becoming very soft and turning brown to black when fully ripe. There may be 0 to 12 flat, smooth, brown seeds. 1
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. 5

Diospyros digyna (Zapote prieto, zapote negro) Fruit habit Chocolate pudding fruit
Fig. 2 magnifying glass Fig. 3 magnifying glass Fig. 4 magnifying glass

Varieties
There are a few black sapote varieties available in Florida including 'Merida' (also called 'Reineke') and 'Bernicker'. There are a number of other varieties that are not available locally yet. These include 'Mossman', 'Cocktail', 'Maher', 'Ricks Late', and 'Superb'. 1
'Merida' an Early Maturing Cultivar from the State Horticultural Society pdf

Harvesting

Mature black sapote fruit change from a shiny green to dull green color and the lobes of the sepals (called the calyx) reflex upward. Harvested fruit take 3 to 14 days to soften to eating quality. After fruit become ripe they may be stored in the refrigerator for several days for later use. 1
It is difficult to detect the slight color change of mature fruits amid the dense foliage of the black sapote tree. Many black sapotes ripen, fall and smash on the ground before one has the chance to pick them, and this is one reason why the tree is not favored for landscaping in urban areas. 3
Most black sapotes in Florida ripen in December, January or February. Certain trees, especially the large-fruited types, regularly come into season in June, others in July and August. 3

Pollination
Some trees may produce only male flowers. Male flowers are usually in clusters of 3 to 7, and female flowers are usually solitary. Flowers are white and tubular, with a green calyx and an 8- to 12-carpelled ovary. Flowers are pollinated by insects. Some varieties may be self-incompatible and therefore require cross pollination with another variety or seedling that produces male or bisexual flowers in order to produce fruit. 1

Propagation
Black sapote may be propagated by seed, marcottage (air-layering), budding, and grafting. Black sapote varieties do not come true from seed and seedling trees may take up to 5 or 6 years to flower. Trees with only male flowers will not produce fruit; trees with female or male and female flowers will bear fruit. Superior fruit varieties and selections are therefore propagated by budding and grafting. 1
Propagation is usually from seed, which can retain viability for several months and require around 30 days for germination.  3

Tip Grafting from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia

Planting
Proper planting is one of the most important steps in successfully establishing and growing a strong, productive tree. In general, black sapote trees should be planted in full sun for best growth and fruit production.
It thrives on moist sandy loam, on well-drained sand or oolitic limestone with very little top-soil in southern Florida. 3
See the Update on the latest techniques for properly planting trees and shrubs ext link Video

Pruning
Formative pruning during the first 2 years may be desirable to encourage lateral branching and growth. Pruning should be done soon after after danger of frost has passed. Selectively removing a few upper limbs back to their origins (crotches) each year will help prevent the loss of the lower tree canopy due to shading by the upper canopy. 1

Irrigation
Newly planted black sapote trees should be watered at planting and every other day for the first week or so and then 1 to 2 times a week for the first couple of months. Once black sapote trees are 4 or more years old watering will be beneficial to plant growth and crop yields only during very prolonged dry periods during the year. 1

Pests
Sri Lanka Weevils and Black Sapote from the University of Florida Lee County Extension pdf

Food Uses
Black sapote fruit are eaten when fully ripe and soft. The soft pulp may be eaten fresh or is commonly added as an ingredient of drinks, ice-cream, cakes, and milk-shakes. Black sapote is very high in vitamin C and a good source of calcium and phosphorus. 1
The flavor is enhanced by the addition of honey, vanilla, cream or orange juice. The pulp can be used a a pie filling, in a mousse or can be baked into breads.  It can also be used as a flavoring for ice cream. 2
In Mexico, the pulp may be mashed, beaten or passed through a colander and mixed with orange juice or brandy, and then served with or without whipped cream. Also, they sometimes mix the pulp with wine, cinnamon and sugar and serve as dessert. Some Floridians use an eggbeater to blend the pulp with milk and ground nutmeg. A foamy, delicious beverage is made by mixing the pulp with canned pineapple juice in an electric blender.  3

Black Sapote Recipes from Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Virtual Herbarium

Zapote con naranja, postre
Fig. 20 magnifying glass

Medicinal Uses **
The crushed bark and leaves are applied as a blistering poultice in the Philippines. In Yucatan, the leaf decoction is employed as an astringent and is taken internally as a febrifuge. Various preparations are used against leprosy, ringworm and itching skin conditions. 3


Further Reading
Black Sapote Botanical Art
Black Sapote from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia, inc.


List of Growers and Vendors


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Bibliography

1 Crane, Jonathan, H. and Balerdi, Carlos. "Black Sapote Growing in the Florida Home Garden". edis.ifas.ufl.edu. This document is HS1055, one of a series of the Horticultural Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication date Nov. 2005. Revised Oct. 2006. Reviewed Nov.2009 and July 2013. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
2 Boning, Charles R. "Florida's Best Fruiting Plants". Pineapple Press, Inc. Sarasota, Florida.2006. Book.
3 Morton, J. "Black Sapote". p. 416-418. Fruits of warm climates. 1987. hort.purdue.edu. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
4 "Synonyms of Diospyros digyna Jacq.."  theplantlist.org. Web. 22 May 2016.
5 Diospyros digyna. agroforestry.org. Web. 24 May 2016.

Photographs

Fig. 1,5,6,7,8 Ghosh, Asit K. Black Sapote (Diospyros digyna/Ebenaceae). 2009. wikipedia.org. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
Fig. 2 Fernández C., José Ramón. Diospyros digyna (Zapote prieto, zapote negro). 2012.  flickr.com. Under (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). Web. 24 May 2016.
Fig. 3 Galler, Yonathan. Black Sapote Fruit. 2007. wikipedia.org. Picture taken in Israel. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
Fig. 4 Halans, Jean-Jacques. Chocolate pudding fruit. 2013. flickr.com. Under (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). Web. 24 May 2016.
Fig. 9,14 Aguilar, Reinaldo. Diospyros digyna Jacq. 2014. flickr.com. Under (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). Vascular Plants of the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica. Web. 23 May 2016.
Fig. 10 Critical Miami. Whole and opened ripe fruits. 2008. wikipedia.org. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
Fig. 11 Gerus, Tatiana. Flowers. N.d. tropical.theferns.info. Under (CC BY 2.0). Web. 24 May 2016.
Fig. 12,16,19 Diospyros digyna, Diospyros obtusifolia. N.d. toptropicals.com.  Top Tropicals Tropical Plant Catalog. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
Fig. 13 Tatters. Flowering Sapote (Diospyros digyna). 2011.  (CC BY-SA 2.0). flickr.com. Under (CC BY-SA 2.0) . Web. 24 May 2016.
Fig. 15,17 Kwan. Diospyros digyna. 2010. natureloveyou.sg. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.
Fig. 18 Stang, David. Base of trunk. N.d. tropical.theferns.info. Under (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0). Web. 24 May 2016.
Fig. 20 Admiranda715. Zapote con naranja, postre. 2012. commons.wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY-SA 4.0.). Web. 24 May 2016.  

UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas
** Information provided is not intended to be used as a guide for treatment of medical conditions.

Published 16 Dec. 2014 LR. 10 May 2016 KJ. Updated 24 May 2016 LR
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