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Orchard Trees of Rancho Los Cerritos: Sapotes

Articles: Orchard Trees of Rancho Los Cerritos: Sapotes

Palmately compund leaves of sapote (Casimiroa edulis). Author’s photographs

Native to Central Mexico, sapote (Casimiroa) was named for Spanish botanist Casimiro Gomez de Ortega (1741- 1818), who directed the formation of the Royal Botanic Garden of Madrid and was the first professor there. This was the garden where Spanish explorers sent the wealth of plants discovered on their travels in the New World. The genus Casimiroa comprises a half-dozen species, the majority of which remained local. The most popular and well-traveled species, C. edulis, was so called because the flesh of the fruit was delightfully edible. Known as white sapote or, simply, sapote, it was planted in countries enjoying a mediterranean climate, but did less well in tropical climates. The common name in Spanish is zapote blanco, derived from the Nahuatl word tzapotl, used to describe many soft and sweet fruits. Zapote became sapota in Latin and sapote in English. Ironically, the family Sapotaceae is full of plants bearing soft, sweet fruits, but Casimiroa is not a member. Rather, it is classified in the citrus family (Rutaceae).

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