I’ve been lusting after the ‘Silas Woods’ sapodilla, a dwarf, ever-bearing form of this tropical fruit, ever since I first heard of it. I finally got a plant of this variety! Gonna plant this one in the ground in my tropical fruit greenhouse, so I’ll hopefully be eating fresh-off-the-tree sapodillas for much of the year. Sapodilla (Manilkara zapota), also called chico sapote, nispero, sawo, or sapota, tastes like a pear that’s been soaked in brown sugar. I got my plant from the excellent tropical fruit farm and nursery Sulcata Grove, located in Sarasota, on Florida’s west coast. Since my tree is still small, the first photo here is a re-post from Celeste at Sulcata Grove of what the fruit set on a mature tree of ‘Silas Woods’ sapodilla can look like. And when I say ‘mature tree’, what that means in this case is that the tree was TWO YEARS OLD, and was loaded with this much fruit. When she posted this photo in August, Celeste said, “This variety just keeps producing. This tree was planted in 2015. We harvested about 20 ripe fruits yesterday, and the tree is still loaded today. Every time I harvest or thin the fruits, the tree just flowers again.” Note in the pic how the fruits are in all different stages of development – that’s a testament to the extended season of ripening.
One “problem” people people have reported with ‘Silas Woods’ is that the tree produces such insane quantities of fruit, it can have branches break from carrying all that weight. I consider that a good problem to have – when the need arises, I’ll be ready to put supports under heavily loaded branches.
Celeste says that at Sulcata Grove they usually have this variety in stock, 3-gallon grafted plants for $50, sales by appointment. They also sell lots of other kinds of fruit trees, with banana varieties a specialty. I want to mention as well that Celeste & her husband Craig are extremely knowledgeable about tropical fruit, and very nice people. They post lots of informative stuff on Instagram, so they’re a good account to follow there.
Reportedly, in tropical climates this variety can produce all year long. My greenhouse is a pretty minimal cold-protection structure, which keeps temperatures from going below freezing, but overnight lows inside can dip down to chilly near-freezing temperatures all winter. That’s likely to slow down growth and fruit production quite a bit during winter for this tropical tree, so I probably won’t get true year-round fruit ripening, but I’m hoping to be eating fresh sapodillas for many months of the year.
On a side note, sapodilla and several related trees were the original source of chewing gum – the sap hardens into a chewy substance called chicle. The Wrigleys gum company used chicle to make chewing gum until 1952 before switching to a petrochemical product as their gum base. Several small companies still make chewing gum based on chicle.
Another sapodilla variety I’ve heard of that reportedly is dwarf and highly productive is called ‘Makok’. I’m on the lookout for that one. Do you have any experience with it? Let me know in the comments.
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