The mamey sapote grows into an open tree with a thick central trunk and a few large limbs. Mamey sapote trees are large, erect to spreading trees which may grow to a height of about 40 feet (12.2 m) in Florida and may exceed 60 feet (18.3 m) in more tropical regions.
The fruit is a berry, ovoid to ellipsoid in shape, with a persistent calyx at the base. Most vary from 3 to 8 inches (7.6 to 20.3 cm) in length. The skin is thick and woody with a russet brown, somewhat scurfy surface. The pulp of mature fruits is salmon pink, orange, red or reddish-brown in color, soft and smooth to finely granular in texture, usually low in fiber. The pulp has a sweet, almond-like, unique flavor. Normally, the fruit contains a single, large, elliptical seed but it may have up to four. The seed has a shiny, hard, dark brown surface with a light brown scar (hilum) on the ventral side. Seeds may crack and sprout in overmature fruits. Fruit weight ranges from 0.75 to 6.0 lb (0.3-2.7 kg).
In Florida, the bloom season may be in summer, fall, and winter depending on the cultivar (variety). Because of this, each cultivar has its own main maturity season ( Table 1 ). For example, ‘Pantin’ matures most of its crop in July and August with some fruit maturing before or after these months. ‘Magana’, on the other hand, matures its fruit in March and April with some fruit maturing before or after these months. Other cultivars will mature fruit in the winter, thus allowing for year-round harvest. Trees may have flowers, immature fruit and mature fruit all at the same time. It takes from 13 to 24 months from flowering to fruit maturity.
Seedling trees begin to bear fruit after 7 years or longer. Grafted trees begin to bear in 3 to 5 years. Mamey sapotes are very prolific. Mature trees may bear 200 to 500 fruit per year. Twice this amount may be obtained from large trees.
Grafted mamey sapote trees may have one or more leaders (main trunks) with narrow, V-shaped crotch angles. The strongest and best situated leader should be encouraged to grow by removing all other leaders when the tree is first planted, or preferably in the nursery. In addition, mamey sapote trees have a tendency to produce three to four branches close to one another on the trunk. When this occurs, it is advisable to remove some of them so that the trees will develop a good framework of strong branches. Maintenance pruning of mature trees involves removal of narrow-angled (V-shaped) main branches which tend to split with heavy fruit loads. Wide-angled branches should be selected instead. Maintenance pruning of mature trees to remove dead or diseased branches and to limit tree size should be done periodically. Trees kept to a height of 12 to 15 feet (3.7-4.6 m) or less are easier to care for and are less susceptible to severe wind damage than trees allowed to grow tall.