Manilkara zapota, commonly known as the sapodilla, is a long-lived, evergreen tree native to southern Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. An example natural occurrence is in coastal Yucatán in the Petenes mangroves ecoregion, where it is a subdominant plant species. It was introduced to the Philippines during Spanish colonization. It is grown in huge quantities in India, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Mexico.The name "zapota" ultimately derives from the Nahuatl word tzapotl by way of the Spanish zapote.
Sapote is a term for a soft, edible fruit. The word is incorporated into the common names of several unrelated fruit-bearing plants native to Mexico, Central America and northern parts of South America.
Sapodilla, also called naseberry (Manilkara zapota) is native to Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Belize, and possibly El Salvador. The Sapotaceae were named after this species.
Sapodilla can grow to more than 30 m tall with an average trunk diameter of 1.5 m. The average height of cultivated specimens, however, is usually between 9 and 15 m with a trunk diameter not exceeding 50 cm. It is wind-resistant and the bark is rich in a white, gummy latex called chicle. The ornamental leaves are medium green and glossy. They are alternate, elliptic to ovate, 7–15 cm long, with an entire margin. The white flowers are inconspicuous and bell-like, with a six-lobed corolla. An unripe fruit has a firm outer skin and when picked, releases white chicle from its stem. A fully ripened fruit has saggy skin and does not release chicle when picked.
The fruit is a large ellipsoid berry, normally 4–8 but up to 15 cm in diameter, containing two to five seeds. Inside, its flesh ranges from a pale yellow to an earthy brown color with a grainy texture akin to that of a well-ripened pear. The seeds are black and resemble beans, with a hook at one end that can catch in the throat if swallowed.
The fruit has an exceptionally sweet, malty flavor. The unripe fruit is hard to the touch and contains high amounts of saponin, which has astringent properties similar to tannin, drying out the mouth.
The trees can only survive in warm, typically tropical environments, dying easily if the temperature drops below freezing. From germination, the sapodilla tree will usually take anywhere from five to eight years to bear fruit. The sapodilla trees yield fruit twice a year, though flowering may continue year round.
Chickoo is abundant in fructose and sucrose. It is good source of dietary fiber. Rich in calories, provides about 83 calories per 100 grams. Contains tannins, the polyphenolic antioxidants. Chickoo contains a number of minerals like iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, copper and potassium as well as the Vitamins A, C, thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid and folate.
The dietary fiber prevents constipation and also binds to the toxins and eliminates them from the body thus protecting against colon cancer.
The fruit has tannins that have anti inflammatory properties thus benefitting in gastritis, reflux esophagitis and bowel disorders.
The high levels of Vitamin C and the levels of Vitamin A help to keep the mucus membranes and skin healthy. Vitamin C also boosts immunity, prevents infections and scavenges free radicals as well.
Chickoo is a good anti diarrheal, hemostatic and is useful in piles because of the tannin content.
The magnesium, calcium and phosphorus keep the bones strong while the magnesium benefits the heart and blood vessels.
The fruit is a diuretic and prevents kidney disease.
Potassium helps to regulate blood pressure and promote healthy circulation.
Folate and iron help to prevent anemia.
Chickoo strengthens the intestines and improves their performance.
A decoction of the bark is good for fevers and diarrhea.
The ground seeds are applied as a paste to alleviate sings and bites.Tea made of the bark also treats dysentery while the leaves are useful in treating cough, colds and diarrhea.
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