Manilkara zapota or chiku tree is a small evergreen tree that originated from South America. It is believed the tree was into the Philippines during Spanish colonisation.
The tree grows to 12m in height with low branches and a dark brown bark. The leaves are simple, elliptical and in pairs almost opposite each other. They are spirally-arranged in clusters at the twig ends. Flowers are small, white with brownish or greyish woolly calyx.
The tree produces a rubbery, milky sap called 'chicle' which, for many years, has been used to produce chewing gum. However, modern chewing gum are now made mostly from synthetic gum bases.
The fruit is oval or round in shape and is about 6 – 7cm in width. The sweet flesh is pinkish white to reddish brown contains about 2 – 5 black seeds. Bats relish the fruits and will gorge on them. In Asia, the tree is valued for its fruits, while in its native tropical America, it is valued for its timber and latex.
Look out for the Manilkara zapota along the paddle lodge towards the end of West Lake Ave of MacRitchie Reservoir Park.
(Manilkara zapota along the Paddle lodge of MacRitchie Reservoir Park)
(Leaves that are spirally-arranged in clusters)
(Dark brown bark)
(The fruit which is also known as chiku)