Santol Fruit: Nutrition Facts, Health Benefits, And More

Sandoricum koetjape, also known as the santol, sentul or cotton fruit, is a delicious tropical fruit native to maritime Southeast Asia (Malesia). It belongs to the Meliaceae, or Mahogany family, and can be found in local markets as a fresh snack.

  • Grows from: Seeding
  • Harvest season: March-September (depending on the location)
  • Climate: Tropical or subtropical
  • Temperature: Ideally 20°C, but can withstand temperatures above 6-7°C
  • Maximum height: Average is 20m, tallest recorded is 45m
  • Leaves: Evergreen
  • Pollination: Self-pollinating

Santol fruits are interesting and nutritious. The trees grow from seeding and their harvest season takes place between March and June. They need a tropical or subtropical climate with a temperature of ideally 20°C, however they can survive at temperatures of 6-7°C and up. Santol trees typically reach heights of 20 meters, the tallest tree ever recorded was 45 meters tall. The leaves don’t fall off, they’re evergreen and the plant is self-pollinating.

One Santol tree can produce over 20,000 fruits each year, with two main varieties available – yellow or red. Red Santol fruits are the most popular version found in markets, however, these trees have many uses beyond food such as for ornamental and medicinal purposes.

Santol fruits are round to ovate with a slightly flattened shape. The skin is leathery and fuzzy; beginning green but ripening to golden yellow while sometimes having noticeable red blush marks. The peel of the Santol fruit varies in thickness depending on the variety; it could be thin and fibrous or thick and spongy. Inside they contain 3-5 inedible seeds that are encased in juicy white pulp that has a cotton-like consistency. The taste of the Santol varies depending on maturity and variety – sweet versions with mild peach and apple notes being more desirable than sour varieties which come with an unpleasant lingering aftertaste.

The Unique Taste

The unique taste of Santol fruits is often described as a combination of sweet and sour, with mild peach and apple notes. The sweetness of the fruit increases as it ripens, while the sourness decreases. The texture of the pulp is also unique – it has a cotton-like consistency that can be quite juicy when ripe. Depending on the variety, the peel can range from thin and fibrous to thick and spongy.

Origin/Ethnic/Cultural Info

The santol is native to Malesia but has been introduced to other parts of the world, such as Indochina, Sri Lanka, India, northern Australia, Mauritius, Philippines, and Seychelles. It is widely cultivated in these regions and its fruit are a seasonal staple in local and international markets.

In the Philippines, santol trees are a popular ornamental variety for home gardens due to their widespread branches which provide much-needed shade on hot days. The wood of the tree is also commonly used for building materials for furniture and boats. Santol trees also have medicinal value as various parts of the plant are used in traditional Filipino folk medicine. For example, the pulp is preserved and used as an astringent while the leaves help reduce fevers and roots aid digestion.

Overall, santol trees can be very useful in providing shade during hot weather as well as offering medicinal benefits when it comes to reducing inflammation and aiding with digestion. Additionally, it can be used to build furniture or boats. With all its practical applications considered it is no wonder why this type of tree has become so popular in Philippines’ home gardens and markets alike.


Santol Fruit is a plant that resides in areas of high humidity and low elevation up to 3,000 feet (910 m). This tree requires deep, organic soil to grow optimally and prefers rainfall throughout the year, although it can tolerate long dry periods. To promote the best growth, trees should be planted 20-25 feet (6.1-7.6 m) apart from each other and require fertilizer twice yearly for proper development.

Seed trees generally produce fruits between 5-7 years of age, though some cultivars may only take 3-4 years to start producing crops. The santol tree is highly productive; a mature plant can bear anywhere between 18,000 and 24,000 fruits annually. In Puerto Rico, the harvest season usually occurs in August or September.


Propagating santol can be done in a variety of ways. The most common methods include inarching, marcotting, grafting, budding, and using seeds. Propagating with seeds is not always the best option as it has a high rate of success in producing sour fruits.

Inarching is the simplest form of propagating without the use of seeds. This method involves connecting two shoots of the same plant by inserting one shoot within a long slit made in the other shoot. The plant will slowly start producing new growth from both sections until they are completely united and the wounds have healed which takes several weeks or months to complete. This method is rarely used but if successful, can lead to greater yield than other propagation methods.

Marcotting is another way to propagate santol and involves air-layering a branch taken from an existing tree branch just above where a node shows signs of actively growing roots. The wound must be kept moist until it forms its own rooted layer which can take several weeks or months depending on how quickly root formation occurs. Once it develops its own roots, it can then be separated from its parent and replanted either pot or straight into the soil for mature trees.

Grafting involves combining two parts from different plants – one being the scion (shoot tip) from one plant and another being the rootstock (root system) from another plant – that allows two plants to grow together creating a much stronger union between plants than that achieved by other propagation methods. Santol propagation through grafting increases the chances of disease-resistant plants as well as creating genetic diversity after several generations of growth if left alone.

Lastly, budding involves inserting small pieces of buds into slits carved into existing tree branches and securing them with tape or rubber bands to encourage bud growth before separation when it’s strong enough, similar to what is practiced with cleft grafting in citrus trees rather than whip or tongue grafts common with stone fruit species like peach trees. Overall, this method offers far fewer chances for disease while also providing more consistent results than some other propagation techniques.

Altogether, there are many different methods available for propagating santol successfully so choosing the right one for your needs can help you achieve success and consistency when trying to grow these delicious fruits at home.


The Santol fruit is ripe and ready to be harvested between the months of March – September depending on the location. During this time, the fruit is at its peak in terms of sweetness and juiciness. Careful monitoring of the fruit’s development will ensure that it is picked at the ideal time.

Harvesting too early can mean that the fruit doesn’t get a chance to fully develop its flavor or texture; if left too long on the tree, it may become overripe and lose its sweetness. Farmers and growers pay close attention to the ripening process during these months to maximize both the quality and taste of the fruit being harvested.

To ensure that Santol fruit reaches its full aromatic potential, it has to be harvested at exactly the right time—too early or too late will lead to decreased flavor or texture. Farmers must monitor the fruit closely for these key months in order to harvest their bounty when it has reached optimal quality.

Nutrition Facts

Santol fruits are a nutritious, delicious choice:

  • Good source of iron, which helps move oxygen in the blood
  • Rich in fiber to help regulate digestion
  • Contains calcium and phosphorus for healthy bones and muscle development
  • Packed with Vitamin C for a better immune system

These fruits are also low in fat and calories, making them a great snack for those looking to maintain or lose weight.

Health Benefits

Santol fruits offer a variety of health benefits that make them an excellent choice for anyone looking to improve their overall well-being:

  • Regulate Blood Pressure: Santol fruits are high in potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke.
  • Improve Digestion: The high fiber content of santol fruits helps keep your digestive system running smoothly and can help prevent constipation.
  • Boost Immunity: Vitamin C found in santol fruits helps to strengthen the immune system and fight off infections.
  • Improve Bone Health: The calcium and phosphorus found in santol fruits help to build strong bones and teeth.
  • Lower Cholesterol: The pectin found in santol fruits can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.

When eaten in moderation, santol fruits can provide a wide range of health benefits that are sure to improve your overall well-being.

How To Enjoy Santol Fruit

Here are some ways to enjoy Santol fruit:

  • Eating the fruit raw: The ripe fruits can be plucked from the tree by hand or with a long stick with a forked end. The pulp is eaten plain or with added spices.
  • Prawns with Coconut Milk and Santol: This is a simple recipe that combines the sweet and sour flavors of Santol with the rich taste of coconut milk and prawns.
  • Cooking the fruit: Santol can be cooked and candied or made into marmalade.
  • Santol Juice: A refreshing recipe that involves blending and straining the Santol fruit to create a sweet and tangy juice.
  • Santol Sorbet: This recipe, involves cooking Santol fruit with sugar and water then blending it, pouring the mixture into a container, and freezing it for several hours to create a delicious sorbet.
  • Using the fruit in Filipino cuisine: In Filipino cuisine, grated rind is cooked in coconut milk (with bits of pork and hot pepper) and served as sinantolan in Southern Luzon. The partly ripe sour fruits can also be used as a souring agent in sour broth dishes like sinigang.
  • Using the fruit in Thai cuisine: In Thai cuisine, the fruit is used to make som tam when still not fully ripe. It is also one of the main ingredients in the santol and pork and santol and prawn Thai curries.
  • Utilizing the tree: The wood of the tree is useful for construction and can make a good shade tree. The leaves and bark have medicinal properties, and some chemical extracts from santol stems have anti-cancer properties, and extracts from santol seeds have insecticidal properties.

What is santol fruit called in English?

Santol fruit is called cotton fruit in English.

What does santol fruit taste like?

Santol fruit has a sweet and tangy flavor with a hint of sourness. The texture is crunchy and juicy, similar to an apple.

Is Santol fruit healthy?

Yes, Santol fruit is healthy. It is rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals like vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and iron. It also contains a good amount of calcium and phosphorus which are essential for bone health. The fruit has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation in the body. It is low in calories and fat so it can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet.

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