from Agroforestree Database: a tree reference and selection guide version 4.0
by Orwa C, A Mutua, Kindt R, Jamnadass R, S Anthony
Pouteria campechiana Baehni
Local Names: English (yellow
sapote, egg-fruit, canistel); Filipino (toesa,boracho); Spanish (zapote
mante, zapote amarillo, mammee sapota, mamey de campechi, fruta de
huevo, custiczapotl,cucuma); Thai (to maa, lamut khamen, khe maa)
Pouteria campechiana is
an erect tree and generally not more than 8 m tall, but it may, in
favourable situations, reach height of 27-30 m and the trunk may attain
diameter of 1 m. Slender in habit or with a spreading crown, it has
brown, furrowed bark and abundant white, gummy latex. Young branches
are velvety brown.
The evergreen leaves, alternate but mostly
grouped at the branch tips, are relatively thin, glossy, short to
long-stemmed, oblanceolate, lanceolateoblong, or obovate, bluntly
pointed at the apex, more sharply tapered at the base; 11.25-28 cm
long, 4-7.5 cm wide. Fragrant, bisexual flowers, solitary or in small
clusters, are borne in the leaf axils or at leafless nodes on slender
pedicels. They are 5- or 6-lobed, cream-colored, silky-hairy, about
8-11 mm long.
The fruit, extremely variable in form and size,
may be nearly round, with or without a pointed apex or curved beak, or
may be somewhat oval, ovoid, or spindle-shaped. It is often bulged on
one side and there is a 5-pointed calyx at the base, which may be
rounded, or with a distinct depression. Length varies from 7.5-12.5 cm
and width from 5-7.5 cm, except in the shrubby form, var. palmeri,
called huicon -1.5-3 m high–which has nearly round fruits only
2.5 cm long. When unripe the fruit is green-skinned, hard and gummy
internally. On ripening, the skin turns lemon yellow, goldenyellow or
pale orange-yellow, is very smooth and glossy except where occasionally
coated with light-brown or reddish-brown russetting.
be 1 to 4 hard, freestone seeds, 2-5.3 cm long and 1.25-3.2 cm wide,
near-oval or oblong-oval, glossy and chestnut-brown except for the
straight or curved ventral side which is dull light-brown, tan or
greyishwhite. Both ends are sharp-tipped.
There are apparently
no named cultivars but certain types are so distinct as to have been
recorded as different species in the past. The spindleshaped form
(called mammee sapota or eggfruit) was the common strain in the Bahamas
for many years, at least as far back as the 1920's. The rounded,
broader form began to appear in special gardens in the 1940's, and the
larger types were introduced from Florida in the 1950's.
is considerable variation as to the time of flowering and fruiting
among seedling trees. Blooming extends from January to June in Mexico.
In Cuba, the bisexual flowers are borne mostly in April and May though
some trees flower all year.
The fruits generally mature from
September to January or February in the Bahamas, from November or
December to February or March in Florida. In Cuba, the main fruiting
season is from October to February but some trees produce more or less
continuously throughout the year. The mature but still firm fruits
should be clipped to avoid tearing the skin. When left to ripen on the
tree, the fruits split at the stem end and fall.
canistel needs a tropical or subtropical climate. In Guatemala, it is
found at or below 1 400 m elevation. In Florida, it survives winter
cold as far north as Palm Beach and Punta Gorda and in protected areas
of St. Petersburg. It has never reached fruiting age in California. It
requires no more than moderate precipitation; does well in regions with
a long dry season.
type: The canister is tolerant of a diversity of
soils–calcareous, lateritic, acid-sandy and heavy clays. It makes
best vegetative growth in deep, fertile, well-drained soils but is said
to be more fruitful on shallow soils. It can be cultivated on soil
considered too thin and poor for most other fruit trees.
Documented Species Distribution
Native: Bahamas, Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico
Colombia, Cuba, Honduras, Jamaica, Kenya, Nicaragua, Panama,
Philippines, Puerto Rico, Tanzania, Uganda, United States of America
map above shows countries where the species has been planted. It does
neither suggest that the species can be planted in every ecological
zone within that country, nor that the species can not be planted in
other countries than those depicted. Since some tree species are
invasive, you need to follow biosafety procedures that apply to your
The fruit is edible, but not highly regarded; as it is not crispy and
juicy like so many other fruits. Eaten with salt, pepper and lime or
lemon juice or mayonnaise, either fresh or after light baking. It has
been often likened in texture to the yolk of a hard-boiled egg. The
pureed flesh may be used in custards or added to ice cream mix just
before freezing. A rich milkshake, or "eggfruit nog", is made by
combining ripe canistel pulp, milk, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg or other
seasoning in an electric blender.
Others prepare canistel pancakes,
cupcakes, jam, and marmalade", pie "butter" by beating the ripe pulp in
an electric blender, adding sugar, and cooking to a paste, with or
without lemon juice. The fruit could also be dehydrated and reduced to
a nutritious powder as is being done with the lucmo (q.v.) and this
might well have commercial use in pudding mixes. Canistels are rich in
niacin and carotene (provitamin A) and have a fair level of ascorbic
acid. Chemical analyses show that the canistel excels the glamorized
carambola (Averrhoa carambola L.) in every respect except in moisture and fiber content, and riboflavin.
The fine-grained, compact, strong, moderate to very heavy and hard
timber is valued especially for planks and rafters in construction. The
heartwood is greyish-brown to reddish-brown and blends into the
sapwood, which is somewhat lighter in color. The darker the color, the
more resistant to decay.
Latex or rubber: Extracted from the tree in Central America has been used to adulterate chicle.
A decoction of the astringent bark is taken as a febrifuge in Mexico
and applied on skin eruptions in Cuba. A preparation of the seeds has
been employed as a remedy for ulcers.
Shade or shelter: Provides considerable shade when mature.
is beneficial in the early years. A balanced fertilizer applied at time
of planting and during periods of rapid growth is advisable though the
tree does not demand special care. Outstanding branches should be
pruned back to avoid wind damage and shape the crown.
Pests and Diseases
tree is nearly always vigorous and healthy. Few pests and diseases
attack the canistel. In Florida only scale insects and the fungi, Acrotelium lucumae (rust); Colletotrichum gloeosporioides (fruit spot); Elsinoë lepagei (leaf spot and scab); and Gloeosporium (leaf necrosis) have been recorded for this species.
P and Hall RB. 1994. Four methods for partial overstorey removal in
tropical forests in Mexico. Journal of Environmental Management. 41(3):
Pushpakumara DKNG. 2007. Chapter 16: Lavulu Pouteria campechiana
Kunth Baehni.: In: Pushpakumara DKNG, Gunasena HPM, Singh VP. 2007 eds.
Underutilized fruit trees in Sri Lanka. World Agroforestry Centre,
South Asia Office, New Delhi, India. p. 426-436.