White Sapote – Casimiroa edulis

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White sapote, also known as cochitzapotl in the Nahuatl language (meaning ‘”sleep-sapote”) is a species of tropical fruiting tree in the family Rutaceae, native to eastern Mexico and Central America south to Costa Rica.

Mature Casimiroa edulis trees range from 5–16 metres tall and are evergreen. The leaves are alternate, palmately compound with 3–5 leaflets, the leaflets 6–13 cm long and 2.5–5 cm broad with an entire margin, and the leaf petiole 10–15 cm long.

The fruit is an ovoid drupe, 5–10 cm in diameter, with a thin, inedible skin turning from green to yellow when ripe, and an edible pulp, which can range in flavor from bland to banana-like to peach to pear to vanilla flan. The pulp can be creamy-white in green skin varieties or a beige-yellow in yellow skin varieties and has a smooth texture similar to ripe avocado. It contains from one to five seeds that are said to have narcotic properties.

In the past 40 years, experiments have been carried out on the white sapote’s seeds that have yielded the identity of many pharmacologically active compounds, including: N-methylhistamine, N,N-dimethylhistamine and histamine. It also contains 2?,5,6-Trimethoxyflavone, 2?,5,6,7-tetramethoxyflavone (zapotin) and 5-hydroxy-2?,6,7-trimethoxyflavone (zapotinin).

Several recent in vitro studies have shown that zapotin has potential anti-carcinogenic effects against isolated colon cancer cells.

Eating the fruit has long been known to produce drowsiness, as noted by Francisco Hernández de Toledo in the 16th century. Europeans were not the first to note this quality; the Nahuatl name of the plant itself is a record of the fact that people knew the plant induced drowsiness.