Chico – (Manilkara Zapota-bot. name) is a very popular fruit in the Philippines. Although it is not native to the Islands, the fruit has been widely cultivated. It is in season during the months of January till February. In Hawaii they can be seen in the farmers market up to the month of May.
The fruit is brown in color as you see in the picture. The skin feels a little rough and when you open it there will be black seeds inside, The texture of the fruit when you eat it is also rough almost gritty like a pear, but it is sweet and almost has a malty flavor where we get the name for somebody who had been drinking alcohol, ‘we say you smell like chico’.
The plant is native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbeans. It was introduced to the Philippines during the Spanish colonization. It is now grown in large quantities in other countries like India, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia and Bangladesh.
The tree grows up to 30 m. high. The bark is rich in white, gummy latex which the Mexican natives called “chicle” which I’m sure where we got the name “chico”. It bears white flowers. The leaves are dark green in color and glossy. It is a tropical tree so it needs full sun.
Chico like other fruits has lot of vitamins like C and B and minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and sodium. I consider chico as one of my favorite fruits even if I didn’t know its nutritional value.