Canistel (P. campechiana)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Sapotaceae
Subfamily: Chrysophylloideae
Genus: Pouteria

Many, see text


Many, see text

Pouteria is a genus of flowering trees in the gutta-percha family, Sapotaceae. The genus is widespread throughout the tropical Americas, with outlier species in Cameroon and Malesia.[2] It includes the canistel (P. campechiana), the mamey sapote (P. sapota), and the lucuma (P. lucuma). Commonly, this genus is known as pouteria trees, or in some cases, eggfruits.

Pouteria is related to Manilkara, another genus that produces hard and heavy woods (e.g. balatá, M. bidentata) used commonly for tropical construction, as well as edible fruit (such as sapodilla, M. zapota).


Pouteria, as currently delineated, has over 200 species in the tropical Americas, from Mexico to northern Argentina and central Chile, including Florida and the Caribbean islands. Four species are found outside the Americas. Pouteria hexastemon is native to Cameroon in west-central Africa, and three species are native to IndonesiaPouteria celebica to Sulawesi, Pouteria lucida to Maluku, and Pouteria oxyedra to Sumatra.[2]


Fruits of P. ramiflora

Many species, such as Pouteria maclayana,[3] have edible fruits and are important foods, seasonally. Some are being commercially collected and sold on local markets or packed in cans.

Pouteria species yield hard, heavy, resilient woods used as firewood and timber, but particularly in outdoor and naval construction, such as dock pilings, deckings, etc. Some species, such as abiu (P. caimito), are considered to be shipworm resistant, but this depends on the silica content, which may vary from 0.0-0.9%. The weight by volume (at 12% moisture content) of Pouteria wood can be in excess of 1140 kg/m3 (71 lb/ft3; thus, the wood sinks in water. The wood of Pouteria species is prone to considerable movement and warping when it dries out, but in its main use, naval construction, this is not a problem, since the wood never gets really dry.

The vessel elements are relatively small and usually di- to quadriseriate; the medullary rays are fine and close together. Pouteria woods are capable of attaining an excellent polish using fine-grained sandpaper and possibly some wax. They can sometimes show an attractive figure of dark stripes against a sandy to mid-brown background colour. However, the wood is hardly used for furniture because it is so dense that items made from it would be difficult to transport. Moreover, it is nearly impossible to work using hand tools. Even using power tools, working these woods presents some problems, as well, but given some patience and practical knowledge, these can easily be solved.

For the silica to be effective against shipworms, it needs to dry to some degree to harden. When the wood is continually waterlogged, this process may take place very slowly or not at all, leaving the wood vulnerable.

Pouteria foliage is used as food by some Lepidoptera caterpillars, including those of the dalcerid moth Dalcera abrasa, which has been recorded on P. ramiflora. The fruits are important food for various animals, such as the rock-haunting ringtail possum (Petropseudes dahli).

Due to habitat loss and in some cases overexploitation, many species of Pouteria are threatened. At least 10 are close to extinction, and one – the Rio de Janeiro pouteria (P. stenophylla), which grew near Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, is now extinct.

Systematics and taxonomy

Pouteria is a "wastebasket taxon", and its size is continually being expanded or decreased. The segregated Labatia, described by Olof Swartz in 1788 and named after the French botanist Jean-Baptiste Labat, was maintained as a distinct entity until the 1930s, when it was finally synonymized with Pouteria for good. Most segregated genera that were merged with Pouteria again were established by Henri Ernest Baillon and Jean Baptiste Louis Pierre.[1]

Accepted species

Plants of the World Online currently accepts 217 species.[2]

  • Pouteria glomerata subsp. stylosa (Pierre) T.D.Penn. – Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, and northern Brazil
  • subsp. tuberculata (Sleumer) T.D.Penn. – Red Abiorana – southern Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, northern Brazil, and French Guiana
  • subsp. amazonica T.D.Penn. – Colombia, Venezuela, Guianas, and northern and eastern Brazil

Formerly placed here


Due to the uncertainty regarding its actual content, the number of synonyms of Pouteria is massive. Plants of the World Online currently treats the following genera as synonyms.[2]

The following genera are sometimes included in Pouteria.[1] Their current treatment by Plants of the World Online is included here.