Lucuma Trees ( Ultimate Guide)

Lucuma trees enchant you with their 20 meters height and greyish-brown fissured bark. This is an evergreen tree and belongs to the genus Pouteria. You can easily recognize the Lucuma tree by its elliptical leaves and small bundled flowers.

Lucuma tree or Pouteria lucuma is a perennial tree. Many people consider this tree an ornamental plant. You’re lucky if you live in a tropical or subtropical region as the Lucuma tree can grow pretty well in it.

If you live in a Mediterranean region, you’re still lucky to grow the Lucuma tree. Most of the population in the US and other regions grow the Lucuma tree for its fruits. However, you’ll mostly see the Lucuma tree in the South American region.

Did you know the Lucuma tree is known as Lugma in Ecuador? The actual habitat origin of this tree is the Andean Valley of Peru. Incas used the Lucuma tree for the past 2000 years. In 2002, the Lucuma tree produced an estimated 16,000 tons of fresh fruit in Peru.

In this article, we will go through why the Lucuma tree is famous in many regions of the world. The significance of this tree in terms of producing wood is excellent. Additionally, the fruits are well-liked by the population worldwide.

Brief Summary of Lucuma Tree

Tree Size20 – 30 meters
Growth ZonesUSDA 9-11
Light RequiredFull Sunlight
Composting RequirementMinimal
Flower Bloom SeasonSpring
Fruit Harvesting SeasonSummer & Autumn
Fruit Production4-5 Years
Tree Lifespan150-180 Years
Lucuma Fruit Size6-12 cm

History of Lucuma Tree

The origin of the Lucuma tree is Peru where the people use it for thousands of years. Archeologists have found representations of this tree and its fruits at many burial sites. The locals use the drawings of Lucuma fruit on ceramic utensils.

Another historical perspective of the Lucuma tree is present in the Moche people. They show very fascination with Lucuma tree fruit and use it in their arts. Through history, we now know the Lucuma tree was first reported by Europeans in 1531.

Characteristics of Lucuma Tree

The first thing you’ll notice about the Lucuma tree is its greyish-brown fissured bark. Upon cutting, the bark produces a white color exudate. Lucuma tree can grow up to 20 meters and there is a typical hair-like texture at the end of petioles.

The elliptical leaves are 25 cm long and have a width of 10 cm. You can also see the grouping of the leaves at the end of each branch. The flowers of the Lucuma tree are small and greenish-white in appearance.

Another identification of the Lucuma tree flower is the distinctive five-lobe pattern. If we talk about the fruit, it is globose in shape and is 6 to 12 cm long. The mature fruit has a russet to yellow color on the peel.

If you open the fruit and reveal its pulp, it is bright yellow and contains multiple seeds. The seeds have a dark brown and glossy texture. The growth of the Lucuma tree depends on the type of climate. Therefore, it grows in Bolivia, Chile & Costa Rica.

Nutritional Value of Lucuma Fruit

Lucuma contains 414.5 kJ of energy per 100 grams. The fruits also have reasonable dietary carbohydrates and fiber percentages. Additionally, they are also full of vitamin B complex and vitamin C.

Two important minerals known as calcium and phosphorous are present in Lucuma. Other minerals such as Iron, Potassium, and sodium also make up the mineral composition. Lucuma fruit is true, a healthy and power-packed fruit you can taste.

If you ever had a chance to taste the Lucuma fruit, you know it has a sweet flavor. The fruit has a dry texture and the locals use it in juice flavoring. Similarly, fruit is the main component of milkshakes and ice cream.

I tasted the Lucuma tree and it has a remarkable taste. Manjer de lucuma is a special dessert in Peru. They use Lucuma fruit as the main ingredient of this dessert and give it a special ice cream flavor.

You can eat Lucuma tree fruit fresh or in dried form. However, people use the fruit in dried form as a sugar substitute. Lucuma fruit has all the sweet sugars and you can use it in your favorite milkshakes and juices for flavoring.

Growth Requirements for Lucuma Tree

As the Lucuma tree is the plant of tropical & subtropical regions, it needs the climate of such areas. You can mimic the same requirements by following some important guidelines. These are mainly the soil, lightning, and water conditions.

In terms of soil, the Lucuma tree can handle many types of soil. You can even grow Lucuma trees in loamy and sandy soils. However, you should maintain adequate dampness and moisture of the soil.

The high amount of water in the soil is a problem for the Lucuma tree. The root can tolerate dampness but not too wet environment. Placing the plant in such abnormal soil results in the rotting of the Lucuma tree root.

Lucuma trees can grow quite well in a full-sun environment. The tropical and subtropical regions are famous for allowing full-day sunlight. Additionally, the temperature must not exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit for healthy plant development.

This tree can grow so well with minimal fertilization. You don’t have to compost the soil or add fertilizers frequently. All you have to do is the annual composting of the soil for the proper growth of the Lucuma tree.

Tips to Grow Lucuma tree

If you’re planning to grow a Lucuma tree in your garden, make sure to plant it in spring or autumn. I grow Lucuma trees myself and I prefer keeping them in pots. When the plant reaches the height of 50 cm, it is ready to hold the soil of your chosen land.

Lucuma tree reaches its flower-producing potential after 8 to 9 months. A single Lucuma tree can produce about 500 Lucuma fruits on an annual basis. When the fruits are ready, you can handpick them for further ripening.

Lucuma tree stays in its juvenile state for many years. So, you must not expect immediate fruit production. You should also make sure to keep watering every day if you live in dry climates. Remember! Patience is the key so you must stick to it in the case of the Lucuma tree.

Final Thoughts

Lucuma tree is a famous and hardy tree that grows in tropical and subtropical regions. This tree has its origin in South America. Peru, Bolivia, and Chile are the chief areas where the Lucuma tree can grow.

Lucuma tree demands adequate environment and care. The fruit acts as a substitute flavoring for many traditional and modern drinks. I recommend you follow the recommended guidelines so you can get the taste of its delicious fruit.

Research References

Yahia, E. M., and F. Guttierrez-Orozco. “Lucuma (Pouteria lucuma (Ruiz and Pav.) Kuntze).” Postharvest biology and technology of tropical and subtropical fruits. Woodhead Publishing, 2011. 443-450e.

Aguilar-Galvez, Ana, et al. “Metabolites, volatile compounds and in vitro functional properties during growth and commercial harvest of Peruvian lucuma (Pouteria lucuma).” Food Bioscience 40 (2021): 100882.

Livia, C., and G. Sánchez. “Soil insects associated with lucumo (Pouteria lucuma L.) trees in La Molina, Lima, Peru.” Peruvian Journal of Agronomy 3.1 (2019): 16-23.

Guerrero-Castillo, Pedro, et al. “Biological activity and chemical characterization of Pouteria lucuma seeds: A possible use of an agricultural waste.” Waste Management 88 (2019): 319-327.

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