Manilkara zapota, commonly known as sapodilla (Template:IPAc-en) or chikoo,<ref name=Morton>Template:Cite book</ref> is a long-lived, evergreen tree native to southern Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.<ref name="GRIN">Template:GRIN</ref> An example natural occurrence is in coastal Yucatán in the Petenes mangroves ecoregion, where it is a subdominant plant species.<ref>World Wildlife Fund. eds. Mark McGinley, C.Michael Hogan & C. Cleveland. 2010. Petenes mangroves. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the Environment. Washington DC Template:Webarchive</ref> It was introduced to the Philippines during Spanish colonization. It is grown in large quantities in Pakistan, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Mexico.
Sapodilla can grow to more than Template:Convert tall with an average trunk diameter of Template:Convert. The average height of cultivated specimens, however, is usually between Template:Convert with a trunk diameter not exceeding Template:Convert.<ref>Manilkara zapota Sapotaceae (L.) van Royen, Orwa C, Mutua A, Kindt R, Jamnadass R, Simons A. 2009. Agroforestree Database:a tree reference and selection guide version 4.0 (http://www.worldagroforestry.org/af/treedb/)</ref> 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, Template:Convert 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 berry, Template:Convert in diameter.<ref>Template:Citation</ref><ref name="Harris2009">Template:Cite book</ref> 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. Each fruit contains one to six seeds.<ref name="Harris2009"/> The seeds are hard, glossy, and black, resembling 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.Template:Citation needed Template:Clear left
Sapodilla is known as mispel in the Virgin Islands<ref name=Morton/> and Dutch Caribbean; zapote in Honduras; níspero in Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Cuba, Guyana, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia and Venezuela; dilly in the Bahamas; naseberry in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean; sapoti in Brazil (Template:IPA-pt) and Haiti; chico in the Philippines and chicosapote or chicozapote in Guatemala, Mexico, Hawaii, and Florida.<ref>"Sapodilla Fruit Facts", California Rare Fruit Growers. Retrieved on 2009/03/26</ref><ref>"Ten Tropical Fruits of Potential Value for Crop Diversification in Hawaii", College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. Retrieved on 2009/03/26</ref>
It is known as chikoo (chiku, "चीकू") in Northern India and Pakistan ("چیکو" chiku and "ਚੀਕੂ" in Punjab), and sapota in some parts of India ("சப்போட்டா" in Tamil Nadu, "ಸಪೋಟ" in Karnataka, "సపోటా" Telugu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, "സപ്പോട്ട " in Kerala), sapathilla or rata-mi in Sri Lanka, sobeda/sofeda (সবেদা or সফেদা) in eastern India and Bangladesh, sabudheli ("ސަބުދެލި") in Maldives; sawo in Indonesia and saos in the province of West Sumatra; hồng xiêm (lit. Siamese persimmon), lồng mứt, or xa pô chê in Vietnam; lamoot (ละมุด) in Thailand, Laos and (ល្មុត) in Cambodia.
It is called ciku (pronounced chiku) in standard Malay, and sawo nilo in Kelantanese Malay. In Chinese, the name is mistakenly translated by many people roughly as "ginseng fruit" (人參果), though this is also the name used for the pepino, an unrelated fruit; it should instead be "heart fruit" (人心果) because it is shaped like the heart.Template:Citation needed