Sitafal or Sugar -apple

Botanical Name : Annona squamosa
Family: Annonaceae
Genus: Annona
Species: A. squamosa
Order: Magnoliales

Habitat : Native to the tropical Americas and widely grown in India and Pakistan. Its exact native range is unknown due to extensive cultivation, but thought to be in the Caribbean; the species was described from Jamaica.

It is a semi-evergreen shrub or small tree reaching 6–8 meters (20–26 ft) tall. The leaves are alternate, simple, oblong-lanceolate, 5–17 cm (2.0–6.7 in) long and 2–5 centimeters (0.79–2.0 in) broad. The flowers are produced in clusters of 3-4, each flower 1.5–3 cm (0.59–1.2 in) across, with three large petals and three minute ones, yellow-green spotted purple at the base.

The fruit is usually round, slightly pine cone-like, 6–10 cm (2.4–3.9 in) diameter and weighing 100–230 g (3.5–8.1 oz), with a scaly or lumpy skin. There are variations in shape and size. The fruit flesh is sweet, white to light yellow, and resembles and tastes like custard. The edible portion coats the seeds generously; a bit like the gooey portion of a tomato seed. Sugar-apple has a very distinct, sweet-smelling fragrance. The texture of the flesh that coats the seeds is a bit like the center of a very ripe guava (excluding the seeds). It is slightly grainy, a bit slippery, very sweet and very soft. The seeds are scattered through the fruit flesh; the seed coats are blackish-brown, 12–18 mm (0.47–0.71 in) long, and hard and shiny.

There are also new varieties being developed in Taiwan. There is a pineapple sugar-apple, which is similar in sweetness but has a very different taste. Like the name suggests, it tastes like pineapple. The arrangement of seeds is in spaced rows, with the fruit’s flesh filling most of the fruit and making grooves for the seeds, instead of the flesh only occurring around the seeds.

Sitafal is a very common fruit in Indian subcontinent. It is used in many flavouring products but, so far, the plant is known to have various curative properties………
Annona squamosa belongs to family Annonaceae and it is known as Sugar apple or Custard apple in English. A shrub or small tree up to 6 m high, Custard apple is edible fruit with white pulp that contains many black shiny seeds in it. It is commonly found in deciduous forests and also cultivated in many parts of India. Pulp of the fruit is eaten fresh or converted into juice or shake. Fruits are normally eaten fresh.

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In some regions of the world, the sugar-apple is also known as custard-apple, a different plant in the same genus.

Annona squamosa (Sugar-apple, Sweetsop or Custard Apple) is a species of Annona native to the tropical Americas. Its exact native range is unknown due to extensive cultivation, but thought to be in the Caribbean; the species was described from Jamaica.

It is a semi-evergreen shrub or small tree reaching 6-8 m tall. The leaves are alternate, simple, oblong-lanceolate, 5-17 cm long and 2-5 cm broad. The flowers are produced in clusters of 3-4, each flower 1.5-3 cm across, with six petals, yellow-green spotted purple at the base.

The fruit is usually round or oval, slightly pine cone-like, 6-10 cm diameter and weighing 100-230 g, with a scaly or lumpy skin. The fruit flesh is edible, white to light yellow, and resembles and tastes like custard. The seeds are scattered through the fruit flesh; they are blackish-brown, 12-18 mm long, and hard and shiny.

Different cultures have many names for the species. In English it is most widely known as Sugar-apple or Sweetsop, also sometimes custard-apple (especially in India) though technically incorrectly, as this name usually refers to another closely related species. In Latin America regional names include anón, anón de azucar, anona blanca, fruta do conde, cachiman, and many others. In India it is known as aarticum, “shareefa”, sitaphal or seethaphal (literally meaning “sita fruit” and you can use your imagination to figure out why), and in Indonesia, srimatikiya. The Taiwanese call it Sakya (Traditional Chinese: ??; Pinyin: shìjia; Taiwanese: suck-khia, suck-kia) because one cultivar resembles the top part of Sakyamuni’s  head; it is also known as Buddha Head in Taiwan. Its name in Burmese is aajaa thee. In the Philippines it is called atis. In Thailand it is called Noi-Na  which is also the common name for a hand-grenade because of its explosive taste. In Vietnam, it is called trái mãng c?u ta or na. In Brazil, it is called fruta do conde or pinha.

Cultivation and uses
Tribal farmers in Patalkot prepare a wonderful pesticide from the leaves of Sweet Apple. For this, they crush 500gm leaves of the plant and mix it with cow urine and Tobacco powder and boil it with 10 liter water for 45 mins. The decoction obtained is the concentrated pesticide. 50 ml of this concentrate solution is thus mixed with 15 ltrs of water and sprayed on the insect infested soil.

Like most species of Annona, it requires a tropical or subtropical climate with summer temperatures from 25 ° to 41 °C, and mean winter temperatures above 15 °C. It is sensitive to cold and frost, being defoliated below 10 °C and killed by temperatures of a few degrees below freezing. It is only moderately drought-tolerant, requiring rainfall above 700 mm, and not producing fruit well during droughts.

In the Philippines, the fruit is commonly eaten by the Philippine Fruit Bat (Kabag or Kabog) which then spreads the seeds from island to island.

In the Philippines there is a company that produces Sugar apple wine.

It is a host plant for larvae of the butterfly Graphium agamemnon (Tailed Jay)

It is quite a prolific bearer and will produce fruit in as little as two to three years. A tree five years old may have produce as much as 50 fruit. Poor fruit production has been reported in Florida because there are few natural pollinators (honeybees have a difficult time penetrating the tightly closed female flowers); however hand pollination with a natural fiber brush is effective in increasing yield.

Medicinal uses:
It is known for various medicinal properties too.

The roots of this plant are purgative in nature. Bark is a powerful astringent. Fruits are considered as a good tonic in Ayurveda. It enriches blood and it is used as expectorant. It is known to increases muscular strength. Seeds are cooling and it lessens burning sensation too. It relieves vomiting sensations. Patalkot herbal healers dry the unripe fruit and they prepare powder of it. This powder is mixed with gram-flour to kill intestinal worms. The seed powder is applied on head to kill lice in hair. Tribal ladies apply the seed powder on their scalp for hairwash. Leaves are known to heal ulcers and wounds. Fresh trodden leaves are inhaled to conquer hysteria. Decoction obtained from the leaves is said to be effective in cases of dysentery or severe diarrhea. The bark decoction is also good to stop diarrhea. According to Bhumkas (Local healers) in Patalkot, 500 gm leaves are boiled in water for 5 mins and if taken bath, it cures rheumatoid arthritis. Leaves are good to cure diabetes. Bhagats (Local healers) in Dang district of Gujarat state in India prescribe Sitafal leaves for the arthritis problems. Bark of the plant is crushed and made into powder form. One teaspoon of this powder is thus very effective in stomach problems. There are many other medicinal uses of this plant. Healers claim to cure almost 15 common ailments by fixing Sitafal in their formulations.

Sugar-apple fruit is high in calories and is a good source of iron. It is the most widely cultivated of all the species of Annona, being grown widely throughout the tropics and warmer subtropics; it was introduced to southern Asia before 1590. It is naturalized north to southern Florida in the United States and south to Bahia in Brazil, and is an invasive species in some areas.

It is used by some societies in India to prepare a hair tonic. The seeds are also ground and applied to rid the hair of lice.

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The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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