Botanical name: Manilkara zapota Family: Sapotaceae (Mahua family)
Chikoo is a fairly slow-growing, long-lived tree, upright and elegant, distinctly pyramidal when young. It grows up to to 18 m high in the open but reaching 30 m when crowded in a forest. It is strong and wind-resistant, rich in white, gummy latex. Its leaves are highly ornamental, evergreen, glossy, alternate, spirally clustered at the tips of the forked twigs; elliptic, pointed at both ends, firm, 7.5-11.25 cm long and 2.5-4 cm wide. Flowers are small and bell-like, with 3 brown-hairy outer sepals and 3 inner sepals enclosing the pale-green corolla and 6 stamens. They are borne on slender stalks at the leaf bases. The fruit may be nearly round, oblate, oval, ellipsoidal, or conical; varies from 2 to 4 in 5-10 cm in width. When immature it is hard, gummy and very astringent. Though smooth-skinned it is coated with a sandy brown scurf until fully ripe. The flesh ranges in color from yellowish to light- or dark-brown or sometimes reddish-brown; may be coarse and somewhat grainy or smooth; becomes soft and very juicy, with a sweet flavor resembling that of a pear. Some fruits are seedless, but normally there may be from 3 to 12 seeds which are easily removed as they are loosely held in a whorl of slots in the center of the fruit. They are brown or black, with one white margin; hard, glossy; long-oval, flat, with usually a distinct curved hook on one margin; and about 2 cm long. Chikoo is native to Central America.
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