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What are some facts about sapodillas?

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Quick Answer

Sapodillas are the original source of chicle for chewing gum. They produce an edible fruit that has a unique flavor comparable to root beer or sugared pears. Sapodilla is a tropical tree that is native to Central America and the Caribbean.

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Full Answer

Sapodilla is grown chiefly for its fruit, which is popular in the parts of Latin America where it is grown. It is eaten raw or processed into ice cream or jam. Parts of the plant, such as the leaves, have also been used in traditional medicine to treat digestive problems.

The other major product of sapodilla is the sap. Sapodilla sap, called chicle, is the original source of chewing gum. As of 2015, very few commercial chewing gums actually contain any chicle, but the tree is still cultivated for its rubbery sap.

Sapodilla is rarely used as lumber, although it is strong and very durable. The Mayans used sapodilla to build the frames of their temples. Sapodilla wood is so resistant to rot and insect infestation that intact beams from these structures have survived many centuries under humid rain forest conditions, even when other parts of the temple lay in ruin.

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