White Sapote–Mislabeled?

See UPDATES below.
Yes mislabeled fruit trees happen. My  “Ice Cream” banana (Blue Java) was tall and tasty but the wrong color. The “Viente Cohol” banana was really a “Thousand Fingers”. My “Thai Giant” jujube has small fruit.  A friend’s “Monroe” avocado is actually a Brogden (not a bad substitute IMHO)

white sapote 2011←Photo of a White Sapote in 2011. Planted 2009 from a 3g pot. It was labeled White Sapote–”Redland”. My guess is something happened to the graft and it is the rootstock. The fruit is too small, has 100% undeveloped seeds inside, took 5 years to fruit and 1 more before it held a little fruit (2015). Lots of fruit in 2016, none ripened or got soft on the tree. All fell off while still rock hard; it took several days for them to get soft, and they were not worth eating 😦

The base of the trunk just below branching is just over 9″ diameter. Height is about 16′, and has been pruned down and grown back to that height twice.

The fruit in the egg carton is the typical size 2.25 x 1.75 or less, probably 90%. A few are the size on right 3+ x 2+”, and the rest are the size on left 2.5″ x 2″.

There are 5 seeds per fruit, and they are always flat (undeveloped) no matter the fruit size. The fruit is quite bitter near the peel and seeds, and since they are so small there is little in between. Just a small spoonful that is a little less bitter.

UPDATE Aug ’16: Tried to graft on named varieties (Suebelle, Super Sweet, Homestead, Bonita Springs, McDill) but that failed. Will try again later, and will remove the tree if that fails. (Cleft or bark graft onto 2″ branch stubs)

Update June ’17:  Turns out, one of the fall grafts also took, McDill. I just didn’t notice before. Got more budwood at the Fruit & Spice Park when we collected fruit for our Taste of the Tropics event at PSL Botanical Garden.
Successfully grafted  RedlandSuebelle, Smathers and Vernon.
Suebelle did the best: all its grafts have leaves.
Most of the Redland grafts also took.
This time it was cleft on smaller branches that grew around the previous cuts.
So now I have a cocktail tree with 5 varieties. Just need to nurse them along, start removing the original tree branches, and spread grafts around to the other branches. One disadvantage of a cocktail tree is that some varieties are inevitably more vigorous than others, and care must be taken to keep them all in balance rather than some shading others. Keeping track of which is where is also an issue once the grafts heal. Another is if the varieties produce at different times, the tree may be unable to recover from the energy it takes to fruit. This might not be such an issue with white sapote since it often fruits twice a year anyway, and is a vigorous tree. Maybe I will try to get a few more varieties on the tree while I’m on a roll, and maybe once they fruit, some will be obvious keepers.

Update ’18. This is the first year (9 years!) the tree made full-size fruit (tennis ball size). At least half the fruit is the small size as previous years. Fruit does not ripen on the tree. It drops off rock hard, but it does ripen off the tree. Five seeds per fruit and the seeds are huge, so there is maybe 1/8″ of fruit between the seed and skin. They have a slight bitter aftertaste, but not too bad.

Update ’19. More fruit, more of it is big enough to get something to eat. The bitterness is much less on the larger fruit, Still has huge seeds. Grafts: None are ripe yet but Redland did the best; about two dozen fruit, 8 Suebelle, 3 McDill, no Vernon, and the Smathers later died.

More stories from my garden.

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