Pouteria sapota

scientific name: 
Pouteria sapota (Jacq.) H.E. Moore & Stearn
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Tree, up to 30 m high, bark fissured, with milky white latex.  Leaves, simple, alternate, blades oblanceolate, 10-60 x 4.5-5 cm, apex acuminate, base cuneate, glabrous above, pubescent beneath; inflorescence in clusters at defoliated nodes or cauliflorus; flowers white with corolla 9-10 mm long; fruit ellipsoid, ovoid or subglobose 8-20 cm long, brown, rough; seeds solitary, broadly obovate, deep brown to black and shiny.




  seed, crushed, orally1

Cyanogenic heretosides are a group of compounds of natural origin that include some 13 different structures.  From the metabolic point of view, they can be hydrolyzed by vegetal enzymes that transform them in hydrocyanic acid (a toxic compound).  Many plants containing this compound also have active and degrading b-glycosidase enzymes that increase the availability of hydrocyanic acid, and may cause acute or chronic cyanide poisoning7-9.

The amygdalin present in the seed is a cyanogenic heteroside which, in the digestive tract, is hydrolyzed and transformed into prunasine monoglycoside, which has better absorption8.

The seed contains a cyanogenic heteroside, amygdalin (or R-amygdaloside), sugars, proteins and tannins2.

The hydroalcoholic extract (95%) from the flower was active in vitro against Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella typhi, Serratia marcescens, Shigella flexneri, and inactive against Salmonella B, S. newport, Sarcina lutea, Staphylococcus albus, S. aureus3.

The hydroalcoholic extract (95%) from the dried leaf was active in vitro against Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella B, S. newport, S. typhi, Sarcina lutea, Shigella flexneri, Staphylococcus albus, S. aureus, and inactive against Serratia marcescens3.

The ethanolic extract, ethanol-acetone (50%) and hydroalcoholic (50%) extract from the fresh leaf4, and the hydroalcoholic extract (95%) from the dried leaf5 were active in vitro against Neurospora crassa.

Amygdalin has been claimed to have anti-inflammatory, antitussive, expectorating and cancer-prevention properties6.

According to published and other information:

Use of the seed orally is classified as tOxic (TOX). Given the toxicity of the seed of this plant, its use is discouraged, regardless of how recognized its alleged therapeutic properties may be.

In the event of poisoning from ingestion, seek medical attention.




1 GERMOSEN-ROBINEAU L, GERONIMO M, AMPARO C, 1984 Encuesta TRAMIL. enda-caribe, Santo Domingo, Rep. Dominicana.

2 JIU J, 1966 A survey of some medicinal plants of Mexico for selected biological activities. Lloydia29:250-259.

3 MISAS CAJ, HERNANDEZ NMR, ABRAHAM AML, 1979 Contribution of the biological evaluation of Cuban plants. VI. Rev Cub Med Trop 31:45-51.

4 ROJAS HERNANDEZ NM, JIMENEZ MISAS CA, LOPEZ ABRAHAM AM, HERNANDEZ SUAREZ C, 1981 Study of the inhibitory activity of plant extracts on microbial growth. Part V. Rev Cubana Farm 15:139-145.

5 LOPEZ ABRAHAM AN, ROJAS HERNANDEZ NM, JIMENEZ MISAS CA, 1981 Potential antineoplastic activity of Cuban plants. IV. Rev Cubana Farm 15(1):71-77

6 DUKE JM, 1992 Handbook of biologically active phytochemicals and their bioactivities. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press.

7 POULTON J, KEELER R, TU T (Eds.), 1983 Handbook of natural toxins 1. New York, USA: Marcel Dekker.

8 NAHRSTEDT A, 1987 Recent developments in chemistry, distribution and biology of the cyanogenic glycosides. In: HOSTETTMAN K, LEA, JP (Eds.), Biologically Active Natural Products. Oxford, USA: Oxford Science Publications. pp167-184,213-234.

9 KLAASSEN C, AMDUR D, MARY O, 1986 Toxicology, the basic science of poisons. 3th ed. New York, USA: McMillan Publishing Co.


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.