Although not a fruit of great value, the icaco is extensively used in the tropics, especially by the poorer classes. It is abundant along the seacoasts of tropical America as a wild plant, and is frequently planted in gardens. In southern Florida, where it is known as coco-plum, it is not considered valuable. In Cuba, where the Spanish name icaco (often spelled hicaco and jicaco) is current, the wild fruit is gathered and made into a sweet preserve, which is served in Habana restaurants as a sobremesa or dessert. In Brazil, where it is called uajuru, its use is limited. It is said to occur in Africa as well as in America.
The icaco is a large shrub or small tree, attaining a maximum height of 25 or 30 feet. When grown as a shrub it is rather ornamental and it is sometimes planted for this reason. The leaves are obovate or obcordate in outline, about 2 inches long, thick, glossy, and deep green in color. The flowers are small and white, in axillary racemes or cymes. The fruit resembles a large plum in appearance, being oval, 1 1/2 inches long, and pinkish white, magenta-red, or almost black in color. The skin is thin, and the white flesh, which is cottony and of insipid taste, adheres closely to the large oblong seed.
Jacques Huber says that the icaco grows wild in the Amazon region on dry sandy soils. In other parts of tropical America it is often found on moist rich ground. It is propagated only by seed. While there is hope of improving the quality of the fruit through selection, it is doubtful, in view of the abundance of more promising subjects, whether the species would repay attention. The plant is easily grown and withstands light frosts.