Geographic Distribution:

The wood commonly known as Zapote (Sapodilla is also a very common name for this wood) is known as Manilkara zapota to botanists and other scientists.

M. zapota is native to a wide swath of Latin America from Central America into South America and it is widely cultivated in the tropics and semi-tropics as a fruit tree rather than a lumber tree.

For the sake of simplicity and common understanding I will refer to M. zapota from here forward using the common name Zapote.

General Characteristics:

The heartwood color of Zapote varies widely and my two examples prove this point.  Heartwood colors seen in Zapote range from pink or red to a darker reddish brown. The sapwood is a pale yellow and it transitions gradually and is not clearly demarcated.  Not surprisingly, as this is source of the chicle chewing gum base, gum pockets are commonly found in Zapote.

Zapote Interior

The grain of Zapote tends to be straight, although wavy figure can be found on occasion) with a medium to fine uniform texture.

Zapote features outstanding durability and insect resistance. Intact Zapote beams have been found amid the ruins of Mayan temples.

Working Characteristics:

Zapote is very dense and that can make it difficult to work with but, in general, good results can be obtained.  Zapote is noted to turn and finish well.

Due to the density, Zapote does demonstrate a moderate blunting effect on cutters.

Zapote is not reported to have any characteristic odor.

Pricing and Availability:

Zapote is not frequently imported or available.  When available, Zapote should be in the moderate price range for an imported hardwood.

In this blog, I almost always recommend several vendors with whom I have done considerable business and in whom I have great confidence.  These vendors are: West Penn Hardwoods, Bell Forest Products, NC Wood, WoodTurningz, Amazon Exotic Hardwoods, Griffin Exotic Wood, Exotic Woods USA, Got Wood?, and Wood Turning Blanks 4U.

At this time, the only vendor I am familiar with that is selling Zapote is Exotic Woods USA.  The largest piece they offer is 8x8x3 which sells for $35.90.

Woodfinder is an excellent website that is dedicated to advertising wood dealers.  In your search for Zapote this can be an invaluable resource provided you use multiple search terms to capture all the possible listings.  I can’t speak to the quality of any of the listed dealers, but Woodfinder does have the advantage of allowing searches to be performed based on location which might allow an interested buyer to visit a listed wood dealer in person to hand pick pieces at a comfortable price.

A significant problem with using Woodfinder is that many vendors are listed for woods that, upon further investigation, they do not offer.  I don’t know if perhaps once they did and they didn’t update their listings or if some vendors use a standardized list of woods that include most everything conceivable with the idea that once you land on their page you will find something you want to buy even if you didn’t know it beforehand.  It happens to me all the time!

Common Uses:

In addition to its fruit, known as the Sapodilla, which is extremely popular in the native range of Zapote, the wood may be used for: cabinetry, furniture, archery bows, flooring, turned objects, and other small specialty wood items.

Zapote Reverse (note the figure around the gum deposit on the left side of bowl)


Zapoteis NOT listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendices nor is it listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List.