The mamey is an exotic fruit with a unique texture and color. It is very versatile and can be eaten in different ways. Mamey fruit trees are indigenous in the Caribbean, West Indies, Central America, and Northern South America.
The mamey grows wild in the states of Veracruz, Chiapas and Tabasco.
Its name in Nahuatl is tetzontzapotl, which means “zapote color of tezontle”. The tezontle rock is similar in color to the fruit.
The origin of the mamey is Mesoamerica, but the exact origin not known.
The mamey is an oval-shaped fruit of the Zapotaceae family. It is also called zapote mamey or zapote colorado. The mamey measures between 6 and 10 inches long.
Technically, the fruit is a berry. It is about 4 to 10 inches in length and about 3 to 5 inches in width. and has flesh ranging in color from pink to orange to red.
Its shell is thin, hard, brittle, reddish brown to brown, with a rough texture. Its pulp is soft, reddish or pink, with a delicate, sweet taste
The seed (pit) is called pixtle.
The leaves are elliptic, pointed at both ends. They are 4 to 10 inches long and grow in clusters at the ends of branches.
Mamey flowers are white. They may be male or female on the same tree or different tree. The mamey tree bears four to six petal blooms. The mamey tree flowers from August to October. It can bloom during and after fruiting.
During the months of April and May, the mamey fruit ripens quickly. The mamey fruit is ripe when a fleck of the skin is removed and the flesh appears as a vibrant salmon color.
The seed is ellipsoid-shaped, dark (almost black) and shiny, about 2 inches in length.
The mamey tree is of great height of 49 to 148 ft at maturity. It is adaptable to tropical and subtropical climates. It grows best in sandy, muddy, deep, loose, fertile soils. It mainly propagates by grafting, ensuring the same characteristics of the parent.
In grafting, it takes about four years for flowering, and for the mamey tree to produce fruit. Mamey trees grown from seed require more than five years of growth before fruiting.
The mamey tree does not require great climatic conditions. A warm climate is the best climate. The mamey tree grows one thousand meters above sea level.
Photo credit: directoalpaladar.com.mx
Properties of the mamey fruit
Over 70 percent of the mamey fruit is made up of water. It contains small amounts of calcium, iron, fat, and fiber. It is rich in protein, sodium, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorous, and carbohydrates.
It is high in vitamins A and C. Its high content of carotenes results in its unique color.
Commonly, in Mexico, the mamey is an ingredient in ice cream and milkshakes.
Traditionally, its healing properties include wound healing, skin protection, relief of inflammation of the bronchi, stomach pain relief, and vision and heart problems. Mamey promotes the stimulation of collagen in bones and dentin in the teeth, protects hair from infections, and prevention of skin allergies. It promotes the growth of hair, eyelashes, and nails.
Large production is possible in the cultivation of mamey. It is possible to obtain about 20 tons annually, with over 100 mamey trees.
There is strong commercial demand at the national level, as the mamey is considered a traditional food of great nutritional value. To cover the national demand, mamey is produced in extensive crops where the season goes from March to July.
The state of Yucatan is the main producer nationwide, producing about 13 thousand tons. In Yucatan, mamey trees are cultivated in an area of 507 hectares distributed in the municipalities of Akil, Ticul, Tekax and Oxkutzcab. This area generates a production of more than 11,000 tons.
The state of Guerrero produces over 2,000 tons and the state of Veracruz over 1,000 tons.
In total there are 14 states in Mexico that produce mamey.
Total production of mamey in Mexico exceeds 17 thousand tons.
Did you know…
The latex that is extracted from the branches of the mamey tree is generally used as an insecticide and skin protector against mosquitoes.
The mamey is a climacteric fruit, which means that its maturation continues even though it is separated from the plant.