The Green Sapote, Pouteria viridis Cronq., (syns. Calocarpum viride Pitt.; Achradelpha viridis O.F. Cook), is called injerto, injerto verde or raxtul in Guatemala; zapote injerto in Costa Rica; white faisan or red faisan in Belize. The tree is erect, to 40 or even 80 ft (12-24 m) in height, its young branches densely brown-hairy. It possesses an abundance of white, gummy latex. The leaves are clustered at the tips of flowering branches and irregularly alternate along non-fruiting limbs. They are oblanceolate, pointed, 4 to 10 in (10-25 cm) long, 2 to 2¾ in (5-7 cm) wide; hairy on the upper midrib and downy-white beneath. Flowers, borne in groups of 2 to 5 in the leaf axils and massed along leafless branches, are tubular, 5-lobed, pinkish or ivory and silky-hairy. The fruit varies from nearly round to ovoid, pointed at the apex and sometimes at the base; may be 3½ to 5 in (9-12.5 cm) long and 2½ to 3 in (6.25-7.5 cm) thick, with thin, olive-green or yellow-green skin dotted with red-brown and clinging tightly to the flesh. The flesh is light-russet, of fine texture, melting, fairly juicy and sweet; of better flavor than the sapote. There may be 1 or 2 dark-brown, shiny, elliptic or ovate seeds to 2 in (5 cm) long, with a large, dull, grayish hilum on one surface. The fruit is picked while hard and held until soft. The flesh is generally eaten raw, spooned from the skin, but a preserve is made from it in Guatemala.
The tree is native and common in the wild in Guatemala and Honduras; rarer in Costa Rica and southward to Panama; at elevations between 3,000 and 7,000 ft (900-2,100 m). The fruits are commonly marketed.
In 1916, 50 seeds from fruits on the market in Guatemala were introduced by the United States Department of Agriculture (S.P.I. #43788). Experimental plantings were made in California and Florida. More seeds were sent by Dr. Wilson Popenoe from the Lancetilla Experimental Garden at Tela, Honduras, in 1929 (S.P.I. 1180383). Other introductions followed. There were no survivors in California or Florida in 1940. Trees 8 to 10 ft (2.4-3 m) high at the Agricultural Research and Education Center, Homestead, Florida, were killed by flood in 1948. A private experimenter, William Whitman, obtained budwood from Honduras in 1954 and grafted it onto sapote rootstock. Other such grafts were made by a commercial fruit grower and the first fruits were borne in 1961.
Subsequently, grafted trees were offered for sale by the Brooks-Tower Nursery, and various seedlings have been distributed to private growers. The tree seems to flourish with little care on rich hammock soil, but needs regular fertilizing on limestone. The Cuban May beetle feeds on the leaves. Seedlings begin to bear when 8 to 10 years old. The crop ripens in fall and winter.
|* Analyses made in Guatemala.|
The latex (chicle) has been commercially collected and marketed like that from the sapodilla for use in chewing gum. The wood is reddish, fine-grained, compact, strong, durable; occasionally used in construction, carpentry, turnery, and for furniture and panelling in Guatemala.
DATE: November 1989
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