Monday, February 8, 2016


CIKU (Manilkara sp.) what I know is a tropical fruit also known as sapodilla are belongs to the family Sapotaceae. Ciku has varoius names globally which the most comman names are Ciku and Sapodilla. The scientific name are Manilkara zapota (older generic names: Achras zapota, Manilkara achras). In Malay the names are Ciku or chiku (Malaysia), Sawo manila, Sawo londo (Indonesia). From my reading, other common names for this fruit are Naseberry, Chicle, Sapodilla plum, Chico, Chiku and chico sapote.
Various species of Manilkara are grown and used worldwide for different purposes. The species most popular for its fruit in Malaysia and Southeast Asia is the Manilkara zapota. This was also called Manilkara achras, Achras zapota or Nispero achras, a derivative of the Greek word achras for the Pear tree, because of the fruit's semblance to a pear.  Few variety grown iin Malaysia are Ciku Betawi (C61), Ciku Jantung (C62), Ciku Subang (C63), Ciku Mega C19 (C64) and Ciku Raja (C65). Both Ciku Jantung and Ciku Subang are the moste planted ciku variety in Malaysia and high yielding. This article in "Anim Agriculture Technology" I share my experts about ciku.

Origins and distribution of ciku or so called Sapodilla is a Tucatan native of Central America, Mexico, Northeastern Guatemala and the West Indies, where it is a tall tree found in forests. Spanish colonialists brought a variety of Manilkara to Manila where it became known for its fruit. From the Philippines, it spread throughout Southeast Asia as a popular fruit tree. Various species of sapodilla are now cultivated in Africa, India, East Indies, Philippines, Malaysia, the tropics and sub-tropics of the Americas and they are found in almost all tropical countries worldwide. Ciku has around 75 related species across the globe although this tropical version is much shorter than its counterparts in Central America. They are used for various purposes such as for its fruit, wood or medicinal properties. Manilkara duplicata, also known as Mimosops globosa was introduced into the Singapore botanical gardens for its fruit and timber. In Malaysia, sapodilla is grown mainly in the state of Terengganu, Pahang, Perak, Johor and Melaka. Out of 1,115 hectare planted only 515 hectare producing fruits estimated about 6,505 mt in 2014 (Source: Agriculture Department of Malaysia, 2014). Germination is through seeds that remain viable for a few months. Grafting and marcotting is used to obtain cloned material.

Description of ciku tree is evergreen, has a conical crown and can grow up to 30 m in height. Its bark is light-grey and becomes fissured with age. The plant with all its parts has a white latex. Young twigs of the plant are covered in a woolly layer. Its leaves are spirally arranged, dark green and pointed. It has a stalk measuring between one to three cm. Ciku flowers are white, fragrant, solitary and bisexual. They have six free sepals in two whorls on the outside. The petals are joined in a corolla tube with six lobes and six stamens and six staminodes. The ovary is superior and it has a single style. The flowers remain open even at night. The major flowering period for sapodilla in Singapore is in the month of May. Ciku fruits are brown, round or oblong, with a thin skin. The flesh is sweet, soft and reddish-brown. The fruits have very few seeds in them that are hard, black, elongated, flattened and shiny.

Usage and potential of ciku are consumerd as Food and other purposes. Sapodilla is usually consumed fresh. The fruit is commercialised for its flavour in sherbets, drinks, butter and ice-creams. It is also cooked to make pies, syrups, sauces, jams and is fermented to get wine or vinegar. In Indonesia, the young shoots are eaten either raw or after steaming with rice. The latex of the tree M.balata, that coagulates into what is known as chicle, formed the base for chewing gums before synthetic materials came to be used.  For medicinal usage, in Java, sapodilla flowers are used in a powder with other ingredients that is rubbed on the stomach of women after child birth. The seeds, flowers and bark contain tannin and saponin with medicinal properties. The Malaya use the seeds in treating fever. Seeds are also diuretic. Unripe fruits are eaten to stop purging and to treat mild diarrhoea. The Chinese use the bark to treat diarrhoea. The other uses is the gum-latex of the plant Manilkara balata is used in dental surgeries, in making transmission belts and as a substitute for gutta percha from Palaquium spp. for insulating electrical cables. The wood of Manilkara kauki and Manilkara duplicata is used to make furniture. Henry Ridley noted that Manilkara kauki timber was used in coffin making in Malaya. Thanks.

M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Sg Udang Tropical Fruit Farm,
Melaka Tengah, Melaka,
(2 Jan 2016)


  1. salam en anim hosnan. saya salman dari gemas negeri sembilan. saya ada membaca artikel saudara mengenai bunga kantan. saya berminat dengan tanaman tersebut dan ingin mendapatkan bantuan saudara utk dapatkan no telefon cikgu hamdan dr johor. no phone yg ditinggalkan di artikel tersebut kurang 1 nombor

  2. Hi !

    I am from India, currently in Singapore for 2 Months. I came across chiku fruit which was very big and round in shape in Singapore. I have asked the fruit seller where did this come from and she replied Malaysia. I am very much interested in knowing more details about this because I want to plant them back home in India. Could you please provide any details if you have.