From the Manual of Tropical and Subtropical Fruits
by Wilson Popenoe
Mammea Americana, L.
Columbus, after his first visit to Veragua in 1502, is said to have
described the mamey as a fruit the size of a large lemon, with the
flavor of the peach. Gonzalo Hernandez de Oviedo, about twenty years
later, described it more fully and reported it as most excellent.
a horticultural product, the mamey remains in very much the same
position which it occupied at the time of the Discovery. It is a
dooryard tree, nowhere cultivated on a commercial scale, but considered
by the Indians a delicious fruit. Europeans who have settled in
tropical America have learned that it yields a preserve which tastes
remarkably like that made from the apricot.
1 Agr. Bull. of the Federated Malay States, 3, 1915.
tree, which is one of the most beautiful and conspicuous in the West
Indies, reaches 60 feet in height. Its trunk sometimes attains a
diameter of 3 or 4 feet, while the crown is of a deeper and richer
green than that of most other trees. The leaves are oblong-obovate in
form, rounded or blunt at the apex, 4 to 8 inches long, and thick and
glossy. The white flowers, which are solitary or clustered in the axils
of the young shoots, are fragrant and about an inch broad. The petals
are four to six in number, the anthers numerous, and the stigma
peltate. The fruit is oblate to round in form, and commonly 4 to 6
inches in diameter. It has a slightly roughened russet surface and a
leathery skin about 1/8 inch thick.
Surrounding the one to four
large seeds and often adhering to them is the bright yellow flesh,
juicy but of firm texture. The flavor is subacid and pleasant, but the
texture is so close that the fruit is commonly thought better when
The mamey is considered indigenous in the West Indies
and the northern part of South America. Outside of its native region it
is grown in Mexico and Central America, and occasionally in other
regions, but it has not become common anywhere in the Orient, so far as
is known. It is successfully cultivated in southern Florida as far
north as Palm Beach.
Though not common in this region, fine
specimens are occasionally seen at Miami and other places. It is not
grown in California, being too susceptible to frost for any part of
Mamey, the name by which this fruit was known to the
first Spanish settlers in the New World, is considered to have come
from the aboriginal language of the island of Santo Domingo. From it
have arisen the English common names mammee and mammee-apple, both
widely used in the West Indies. The term mamey de Santo Domingo is
sometimes used in Cuba and other Spanish-speaking countries to
distinguish the species from the mamey Colorado or mamey zapote (Lucuma mammosa). In southern Brazil it is known as abrico do Para (Para apricot). The most usual French name is abricot de Saint Domingue.
the fragrant white flowers a liqueur is distilled in the French West
Indies which is known as eau de Creole or creme de Creole. The wood is
hard, durable, and well adapted to building purposes. It is beautifully
grained and takes a high polish. The resinous gum obtained from the
bark is used to extract chigoes from the feet.
The fruit is
sometimes sliced and served with wine or with sugar and cream, but it
is usually preferred by Europeans in the form of sauce, preserves, or
jam. Mamey preserves are manufactured commercially in Cuba and a few
other tropical countries.
The mamey is tropical in its
requirements, and cannot be grown in regions which commonly experience
more than two or three degrees of frost. Large trees were cut back to
the trunks by a freeze of 26° above zero at Miami, Florida. While
the best soil for it is a rich, well-drained, sandy loam, the tree has
made good growth on the shallow sandy lands of southeastern Florida.
Little attention has been given to its culture in any region. Seedlings
do not come into bearing under six or seven years of age; when mature
they usually bear regularly and abundantly. The ripening season in the
West Indies is in the summer.
Propagation is usually by seeds,
which germinate readily if planted in light sandy loam. Some asexual
method should be employed to propagate desirable varieties originating
as chance seedlings. Inarching, which succeeds with the mangosteen,
should be applicable to this plant as well; budding may also prove to
be successful, performed as with the mango. No named varieties have
been established as yet. It will be worth while to search out the best
existing seedlings in tropical America and propagate them.
Mammey Apple Page