From the Manual of Tropical and Subtropical Fruits
by Wilson Popenoe
Lucuma nervosa, A. DC.
Opinions differ regarding the value of the canistel. By some it is
considered a delicious fruit ; others find it too sweet and its musky
flavor unpleasant. It is popular among residents of the Florida Keys
and in Cuba. In the opinion of the author it is certainly not so good
as the green sapote, the star-apple, or the abiu.
which reaches 15 to 25 feet in height, is commonly slender in habit,
but sometimes broad and stiffly erect. It is of handsome appearance and
for this reason is often planted in dooryards. The leaves are
oblong-obovate to oblanceolate in outline, 4 to 8 inches long,
glabrous, and bright green in color. The small flowers are produced
upon the young wood in clusters of two to five. The fruit is round to
ovoid in form, frequently pointed at the apex, orange-yellow and 2 to 4
inches long. The skin is membranous and the bright orange flesh soft
and mealy in texture, resembling in appearance the yolk of a
hard-boiled egg. The flavor is rich and so sweet as almost to be
cloying, and is somewhat musky in character. The seeds, usually two or
three in number (although the ovary is five-celled), are oval, about an
inch long, hard, dark brown, and shining, except on the pale brown
So far as is known, the canistel is not
cultivated commercially in any country, but it is grown as a garden
tree in Cuba and southern Florida. The Cuban name canistel is
presumably from the Maya kaniste; in Florida the names ti-es and
eggfruit are generally used. Botanically the species is often listed as
Lucuma rivicola var. angustifolia, Miq.
fruit, which in Florida matures from December to March, is eaten fresh.
It is taken from the tree when mature and laid in the house to complete
its ripening. Within three or four days it is soft and ready for eating.
tree is fufly as hardy as the sapodilla, and of similar cultural
requirements. It grows in south Florida on the Keys and as far north as
Palm Beach on the east coast and Punta Gorda on the west coast. P. W.
Reasoner wrote in 1887 : "Previous to the 'freeze' a specimen had been
growing in Tampa for many years, which, after many discouragements by
frost, finally produced fruit a few years ago." So far as known, the
tree has never grown to fruiting size in California. In regard to soil
it does not seem to be particular ; it grows well on the heavy clay
lands of Cuba and upon some of the poorest and most shallow soils of
southern Florida. It shares with the sapodilla the ability to grow in
apparently very unfavorable situations on the Florida Keys.
is usually by seed, but budding will doubtless prove successful. The
husks should be removed from the seeds before they are planted. Though
not a rapid grower, the tree comes into bearing when three to five
"While some trees produce fruit abundantly, others
are poor bearers. As usual, there is much variation also in the size
and quality of the fruits borne by different seedlings.