Growing the Tropical Casimoira Fruit

growing sapote trees

I’m variously referred to as him or ‘his nibs and  I’m going to tell you about a poisoned apple that is ripe in our garden at present. Snow White didn’t eat a poisoned apple, she ate a Casimoira. These strange and rare semi-tropical fruit are seldom seen outside of the highlands of Mexico, however Disney’s Wicked Witch must have known their secret. The seeds, (and to a lesser extent the flesh), produce the narcotic Zapotin, which is known for causing drowsiness ‘without the undesirable after-effects of opium’.   But don’t worry, I doubt eating these slippery little fruit will catch on with the late night downtown crowd.

Nicknamed ice-cream fruit or White Sapote, the Casimoira in our garden is around 30 years old and fruits prolifically each year, ripening mid-winter.   It can be eaten with a spoon when ripe, or blended with ice or milk for a smoothie, and works well as an ingredient for ice-cream, hence the name.  The occasional tingly feeling left on the tongue is the mild narcotic at work, though unless concentrated it will do no harm.  Please excuse me for 5 minutes as I need a nap before the next paragraph.

Joking aside, they make a great specimen tree and can cope with temperatures down to -5C degrees but they do need a bit of protection for the first 3 years.  They cope with most soils, aren’t affected by disease, and will do well anywhere an orange tree does.  Grown from seed, they’ll grow quickly up to 15 meters, but fruit only after 10 years.  Grafting onto a root stock limits the height closer to 7 meters and ensures a higher quality fruit, but it is hard to find nurseries that propagate them.

White Sapote-02-01

Casimoira, Cherimoya and Asimoira are all various kinds of Sapote but not actually related.  It’s all a bit confusing to work out what’s what.   Simply, Casimoira’s (White Sapote) are distant relations to citrus whereas a Cherimoya (Custard Apple) is closer to a persimmon.  And Asimoya’s are the difficult Uncle no wants to know, being known as a Kentucky Banana.  You can’t make this stuff up, it’s been a sordid millennium in these circles.  There are many other examples but I won’t mention any moira/moya.

casimoira tree-01Back to more useful facts.   A good mature Casimoira can provide over 1,000 fruit a year if they get plenty of moisture late in the summer when flowering.  If they get stressed by cold or a dry spell they’ll drop their leaves and regrowth starts immediately when the conditions ease.  Pruned in summer, the bendy branches make it easy to espalier.

The fruit needs to soften before eating but you can pick it when firm and let it ripen in the fruit bowl.  Here’s a couple of recipes to try, the easiest, smoothest smoothie and a delicious Casimoira cocktail – click here to download them.

We have a small number of seeds to give away if you’d like to try growing a Casimoira.  You’ll need to plant them quickly as the seeds last only two weeks.  Place the seed in small pot but don’t cover it with more than 1cm of soil.   If possible, lightly crack the seed (hairline is best) before planting.  They usually germinate within 4 weeks.  Keep in a larger pot till it gains some size before finding a roomy, sunny area with good drainage.

Email theteam@countrytrading.co.nz if you’d like some.

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10 comments

  1. Is Andrew talking about casimiroa?

    1. Yes Leah, would you like some seeds to grow some? Email us your address.

  2. Hi,

    Could you please send me some seeds of the white Sapote. Could you please advise if these can be grown in containers.

    Regards
    Sridhar.

    1. Hi Sridhar, we have no seeds at the moment but let me know your address and we can send you some when we have them. No they are too large for container growing I am afraid. They grow to a large tree.

  3. Hi are you guys still very charitably providing white sapote seeds to interested parties? Cos I’m sure interested!! Cheers Ant.

    1. Hi Ant, We haven’t had a crop this year off the tree – sometimes it does have an off year. If you remember email us next year and we’ll happily send you some.

  4. Just found your article about white sapote – we live in “tropical” Wanganui and our tree is about 20 years old – just getting some good fruit off it but nowhere near as prolific as yours – and it regularly sheds leaves so perhaps a good soaking when flowering would lead to a better crop.

    1. Yes Lesley, I think you are probably right. Ours doesn’t crop well in a winter after it has shed its leaves.

  5. Hi, I live all the way down in Oamaru. I don’t suppose the Casimoya will cope with our colder weather down here? I’m really after an Asimoya but not surprisingly finding it extremely difficult to source one. Can you point me in the right direction where I might get one. Thanks heaps.

    1. Hello, I know Stoney Grove Macadamias here in Nelson has Asimoya but have you eaten them? they are an acquired taste. I think you’re right – the Casimoya will struggle with your climate but I’m happy to send you a fruit if you want to give it a grow – just email your address.

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