Chrysophyllum cainito L., Sp. Pl. (1753)

Latin for the local name (caimito) of this species in the West Indies.

Cainito pomiferum Tussac
Chrysophyllum bicolor Poir.
Chrysophyllum bonplandii Klotzsch ex Miq. [Invalid]
Chrysophyllum caeruleum Jacq.
Chrysophyllum cainito var. caeruleum Jacq.
Chrysophyllum cainito var. jamaicense (Jacq.) Bois
Chrysophyllum cainito var. jamaicense Jacq.
Chrysophyllum cainito var. martinicense Pierre ex Duss
Chrysophyllum cainito var. pomiferum (Tussac) Pierre
Chrysophyllum cainito var. portoricense A.DC.
Chrysophyllum jamaicense Jacq.
Chrysophyllum maliforme L.
Chrysophyllum monopyrenum Spreng.
Chrysophyllum ottonis Klotzsch ex Miq. [Invalid]
Chrysophyllum sericeum Salisb. [Illegitimate]
Cynodendron bicolor (Poir.) Baehni

An evergreen tree, conforming to Troll's architectural model, up to 30 m tall, with white gummy latex. Branchlets numerous, plagiotropic, brown hairy, glabrescent; the upright basal parts of successive leading branches align to form the trunk. Leaves alternate, spreading, oblong to obovate, 5-16 cm x 3-6 cm, leathery, reddish ferruginous-sericeous on both sides, quickly glabrescent above, almost parallel secondary nerves very characteristic; petioles 0.6-1.7 cm long. Inflorescences axillary on current season's shoots, with 5-35 clustered, small, yellowish to purplish-white flowers; sepals 5, circular to ovate; corolla tubular, ca. 4 mm long, lobes 5, ovate; stamens 5; stigma 7-11-lobed. Fruit an obovoid-globose berry, 5-10 cm in diameter, purplish-brown or yellowish-green; skin thin, glossy, glabrous, leathery; flesh purple or white, 3-12 mm thick, soft and juicy, surrounding the 411-celled endocarp, which is star-like when cut transversely. Seeds 3-10, flattened obovoid, about 2 cm x 1 cm x 0.5 cm, purplish-black, with chartaceous testa and a large lighter-coloured hilum. [from PROSEA]

In Asia usually cultivated for its fruits. Not yet known from the wild. Caimito grows successfully on almost all types of soil and in a range of climates. Throughout South-East Asia it thrives in the lowlands (up to 400 m elevation) and in areas with a distinct dry season. In those parts of the Philippines where the dry season is most pronounced, undue loss of leaves and less juicy or even shrivelled fruit indicate that drought is too severe and irrigation is needed. Fertile, well-drained and slightly acidic soils are preferred.

Caimito fruit is usually consumed fresh and may also be used as an ingredient of ice cream and sherbet. The bark, latex, fruit and seeds possess medicinal properties. The reddish-brown wood is suitable for construction purposes, and the mature branches are used as a medium to grow orchids. The tree is much appreciated as an ornamental.

Indigenous to the West Indies, spread early over tropical America and now it is cultivated throughout the tropics. In South-East Asia it is most frequent in the Philippines, Thailand and southern Indo-China.

Local names
Borneo: Epal feleppin.
English: Caimito, starapple.
French: Caimite, pomme surette.
Indonesia: sawo ijo (Java), sawo hejo (Sunda), sawo kadu (Bantam).
Malaysia: sawu duren, pepulut.
Philippines: caimito.
Singapore: chicle durian.
Thailand: sataa appoen (Bangkok).