Plant text by Naomi Lacey, photos by Russ Grayson
Common name: Black Sapote (Chocolate Pudding Fruit Tree, Chocolate Persimmon)
Scientific name: Diospyros digyna
Family, and related species: Ebenaceae
Description including form (tree, climber etc), other similar species
A lush evergreen tree typically reaching about 10m in height, it has been known to grow to 25m in some areas. It has long oval shaped leaves that are dark, glossy green and tapered at both ends. The flowers are white and tubular. The fruits are bright green at first but turn brown-black when ripe to eat and have a chocolate custard like texture and flavour. The tree is a prolific fruiter year round in the Darwin region.
Role/ characteristics/ use in permaculture
The black sapote makes a fantastic food forest plant providing lots of luscious fruit and shelter and shade for understory plants. It’s also a beautiful edible plant for a rainforest garden.
Ecology and habitat requirements
The Black Sapote is indigenous to Mexico and is best suited to tropical and sub-tropical climates. It is both drought and frost sensitive though it can tolerate light frosts, particularly if well established. It prefers sandy, loam soils but will grow in most soil types. It can tolerate short periods of flooding and needs regular watering during the dry season.
A grafted tree can bear fruit in 2 years but an ungrafted one can take 5-7 years. It is a very prolific fruiting tree.
Access to plants
Black Sapote can be propagated from seed, by air layering, or by shield budding.
It is readily available in most Darwin nurseries or can be purchased from the wholesaler, Tropiculture NT.
This amazing fruit is low in fat and an excellent source of Vitamin C containing about 4 times as much as an orange.” (daleysfruit.com.au/fruit pages/blksapote.htm)
Norrington, Leonie, 2001, Tropical Food Gardens: A guide to growing fruit, herbs and vegetables, Bloomings Books, Melbourne, Australia
City Of Darwin, Black Sapote – Diospyros digyna, pamphlet
Daley’s Fruit Tree Nursery, Black Sapote
Wikipedia, 2014, Diospyros nigra
The Fruit Pages, 2014, Black Sapote.