Pouteria

Pouteria

Pouteria is a genus of the family Sapotaceae. All of its members are trees. It includes the canistel, Pouteria campechiana, the mamey sapote, Pouteria sapota and the lúcuma of Valparaiso, Pouteria splendens. Many species produce fruits that are edible. Some are even being commercially collected and sold on local markets or packed in tin cans.

Pouteria is a wastebasket taxon, and its size is continually being expanded or decreased. The genus Labatia (1788), named after the French botanist Jean-Baptiste Labat, was maintained as a distinct entity until the 1930s when it was submerged in the genus Pouteria. Planchonella is also often included here.

Uses

Pouteria species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Dalcera abrasa which has been recorded on P. ramiflora.

Pouteria species yield hard, heavy, resilient woods used in outdoor (naval) construction such as dockpiles, deckings, etc. Some species like Abiurana ferro, are considered to be marine borer resistant; however, this depends on the silica content which may vary from nil to some 0.9 per cent. The vessels are relatively small and usually 2-4 seriate; the rays are fine and close together. One would expect that these woods could be used for fine furniture. Pouteria woods are certainly capable of attaining an excellent polish using fine-grained sanding paper 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 so heavy and hard that it is hardly used for furniture (people generally want to be able to move a table). Moreover it is really very difficult to work using hand tools. Using power tools, working these woods presents some problems as well, but given some patience and practical knowledge, these can easily be solved. The weight by volume (at 12 per cent moisture content) of Pouteria species can be in excess of 1140 kilograms per cubic metre/ 71 pounds per cubic feet -- i.e., it sinks in water. The woods of Pouteria species are apt to considerable movement and warping in service, but in view of its main use, naval construction, this is not a problem since the wood never gets really dry.

What does present a problem is, that in order for the silica to be effective against borers it needs to dry to some degree in order to harden. When the wood is continually waterlogged this process may take place very slowly or not at all, leaving the wood vulnerable.

Pouteria is a genus related to Manilkara, another genus that produces hard and heavy woods (such as bulletwood) much used in heavy, outdoors construction.

References

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