I’m really excited about how well Green Sapote (Pouteria viridis) has performed through winter here in zone 9b California and I want to encourage more people to try growing it here. This fruit is a relative of Mamey Sapote from the cool subtropical highlands that has what it takes to survive in many parts of the Bay Area. My experience is this plant can tolerate light frost and 30°F easily, and if mature can take some damage but survive the high 20s. That makes it worth trying in my opinion.
I know of two examples of Green Sapotes producing fruit in northern California - most famously Tom Addison’s tree in El Cerrito which he says fruits every year. The other tree is in Vallejo and has set fruit but has not ripened them yet.
I have one Green Sapote in the ground - it’s about 6’ tall and is a seedling.
What’s most impressive about this plant is that it began pushing new growth in December and kept going all winter without the tender new leaves being damaged by frost.
I also have 4 other plants in pots which are grafted to Mamey Sapote rootstocks - these plants were also unfazed by winter. They are not growing vegetatively like the seedling but they have flower buds emerging. I am concerned that the Mamey rootstock will make the trees more vulnerable to cold, but so far it hasn’t been an issue.
I had the rare opportunity to taste Green Sapote in Hawaii a few weeks ago. I was told that it would taste similar to Mamey but better. In my opinion, it tasted exactly like Mamey and not any better. That’s not a knock against it - Mamey is a delicious fruit.
Finding Green Sapote trees to buy is not easy but they can be had. Plantogram and TopTropicals online nurseries have them occasionally. I’ve also seen seedlings on eBay. They’ve yet to show up in any nursery up north but I have seen them for sale in LA - these are usually going to be sourced from Florida and therefore also grafted to Mamey.