The mamey is a tropical fruit tree known as Mannea Americana and Pouteria sapota, mamey sapote and South American apricot. It is native to the West Indies and northern South America. The tree can grow to 70 feet tall and it looks a bit like a magnolia. The fruit is large, resembling a small football, and the flesh is orange, a bit mealy when ripe, and only moderately sweet. The mamey must grow in a tropical climate, at an elevation no higher than 3000 feet. You can start this tree from its large seed, which will germinate within two months of planting. However, you’ll do best with a young tree that has been started vegetatively to ensure that you don’t end up with a male tree and to achieve fruit more quickly.
Caring for a Mamey Tree
Plant your young tree in deep, well-drained soil and full sun at the beginning of your rainy season. Dig a planting hole that is three to four times larger than the tree’s root ball and then refill it with some of the soil you dug out, providing enough space for the tree to fill the hole up to the top of its root system. It is not necessary to dig in topsoil, compost or fertilizer. Be sure to leave 20 or 30 feet between trees if you are planting more than one, because it will grow quite large.
Water your newly planted mamey immediately after planting and every day for its first 6-8 weeks in the ground. Give mature trees one inch of irrigation once or twice a week if rains do not provide this amount.
Spread a 2- to 6-inch layer of organic mulch around the base of the tree. Bark, wood chips or compost are recommended as mulch for the mamey.
Prune suckers from your mamey tree during summer to encourage the strong growth of its main trunk. On mature trees, always prune dead and diseased branches back to the main trunk. You can keep the mamey at 12 or 15 feet tall in order to enable easier harvesting of the fruit and to help prevent upper branches from breaking during high winds.
Fertilize your mamey with a balanced plant food when you first see signs of new growth and again during its active growing season, which is March through October in most tropical regions. After the tree is 3 years old, reduce the amount of fertilizer you use to half the original application and feed it only at the beginning of each growing season.
Things You Will Need
- Deep, well-drained soil
- Full sun or light shade
- Compost or other mulch
- Pruning shears or saw
- Balanced fertilizer
- If you need to stake your young tree after planting it, use cotton or natural fiber string instead of wire or nylon rope to secure your tree to the stake.
- This tree is very resistant to pests and diseases. If you encounter any insect pests, contact your Cooperative Extension agent.
- If sufficient rain occurs during this tree's first six to eight weeks in the ground, you need not supply it with supplemental irrigation.
- Water your tree thoroughly when it is in flower, when it is setting fruit and when the fruit is small if rains are sparse.
- Many mamey cultivars are available. Check with your local Cooperative Extension for their recommendation of the one that will grow best in your region.
- Avoid fertilizing your mamey during late fall and winter because the new growth can be damaged if a freeze occurs.
- Overwatering can damage the mamey's root system.
- If you plant your tree in a lawn area, take care that you don't injure the trunk with your lawnmower or weed trimmer.