|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|While walking around in Tikal National Park, we came across this tableau, which I thought was very interesting, in an educational kind of way. Not only was it arranged by Nature herself, with the help of some birds who had opened and partially eaten the fruits in the first place, but it showed the fruit of the sapodilla tree at different stages of development (small green fruits to ripe brown), both from the outside and the inside of the fruit, and two open fruits at different stages of maturity. |
The next day we were able to buy a ripe sapodilla fruit at the market and we ate it. It was deliciously sweet. In fact I remember having eaten such a fruit as a child, while growing up in Southeast Asia.
To see the chicle from the fruit, please see the picture in my workshop.
Sapodilla Tree (Chico Zapote)
The tropical forests of Guatemala contain many useful plants, including the sapodilla tree, from which a sticky substance is tapped, that formed the original base of chewing gum before synthetics were introduced. Chicle was a major export of the PetÚn jungle during the first half of the 20th century. A few countries, mainly Japan, still import chicle, which, in turn, provides a source of income for those chicleros living in or near the forest. Like the rubber tree, which also grows wild in the PetÚn, the sapodilla must be tapped carefully to insure that it will remain alive to provide chicle over a period of many years. The Sapodilla Tree is a big one, sometimes 40 mts. high, often its trunk is very thick, and the bark is brown with gray spots, moderately smooth and deeply fissured. This tree lives at 0 to 1200 meters above sea level in dry subtropical forests, humid subtropical forests and very humid subtropical forest. Its edible fruit, named zapote, is delicious. The Maya called it Sak-ya.
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