ALTHOUGH THE WHITE SAPOTE originated in Mexico and Central America, adventuresome Southern California gardeners have successfully grown it since the early part of this century. It does particularly well in our coastal valleys. The custard-like flesh of the yellowish-green, apple-shaped fruit is ultrasweet; the flavor has been described as a combination of banana and very sweet peach.
In most cases, this tree, a prodigious bearer of fruit, will start bearing in three to four years. The fruit usually ripens from late summer through November, although some varieties bear fruit almost constantly. The tree gets quite large--25 to 35 feet tall, with a spread of 30 feet. Its foliage is glossy green.
Although the white sapote can be easily grown from seed, it is not recommended; the fruit from a seedling is almost always inferior to that of a named, grafted variety. There are a few reliable varieties for this area. 'Suebelle' is a classic white sapote that has been grown in Southern California for more than 50 years. It produces smooth, round, light-yellow fruit that weighs between three and six ounces. In many climatic zones 'Suebelle' bears fruit nearly all year round, and the flavor is excellent. 'McDill' produces large fruit, as big as a grapefruit, that has a good flavor and texture. The tree is vigorous and reaches the bearing stage at an early age. 'Fiesta' is a dependable producer of good-quality small fruit that has a thicker skin than other varieties (and so does not bruise as easily as most). Other varieties that produce well in Southern California are 'Chapman,' 'Bravo' and 'Vinner.' Your local nursery probably can order you a tree.