Fruits & Vegetables


Botanical Name : Annona cherimola
Family: Annonaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Magnoliales
Species: A. cherimola

*Annona pubescens Salisb.
*Annona tripetala Aiton

Common Names:Cherimoya, Mark Twain called the cherimoya “the most delicious fruit known to men”. The creamy texture of the flesh gives the fruit its secondary name, custard apple

Other Names: Anona, Chirimoya, Chermoya, Hanuman phala, Noina ostrelia, Sherbet-fruit

The name originates from the Quechua word chirimuya, which means “cold seeds”, because the plant grows at high altitudes and the seeds will germinate at higher altitudes. In Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Colombia, the fruit is commonly known as chirimoya (spelled accordingly to the Spanish language).

Cherimoya is native to Western South America: Ecuador, Peru, Southern South America: Chile, Current (naturalized and native)
It is now growing in:

*Caribbean: Florida, Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico
*Central America: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama
*Northern South America: Guyana, Venezuela
*Southern North America: Mexico
*Western South America: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
*Southern South America: Chile, Brazil
*Palearctic: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, France, Italy, Spain, Madeira, Azores
*Afrotropic: Eritrea, Somalia, Tanzania,
*Indomalaya: India, Singapore, Thailand

They were believed to be native to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru , Bolivia and Chile, spreading through cultivation to the Andes and Central America.However, they are now known to originate in Central America. Cherimoya is grown in tropical regions throughout the world, as well as Spain, where it is widely consumed and grown in the southern province of Granada. It is in the same genus, Annona, as soursop.

Cherimoya or Custard Apple (Annona cherimola) is a small deciduous tree that grows up to 6 – 10 m tall.

The cherimoya is a fairly fairly dense, fast-growing, evergreen tree, briefly deciduous in California from February through April. The tree can reach 30 feet or more, but is fairly easily restrained. Young trees “harp,” forming opposite branches as a natural espalier. These can be trained against a surface, or pruned off to form a regular free-standing trunk. Growth is in one long flush, beginning in April. The roots commence as taproot, but the slow-growing root system is rather weak, superficial, and ungreedy. Young plants need staking.
Foliage: The attractive leaves are single and alternate, 2 to 8 inches long and up to 4 inches wide. They are dark green on top and velvety green on the bottom, with prominent veins. New growth is recurved, like a fiddle-neck. Axillary buds are hidden beneath fleshy leaf petioles.

Flowers: The fragrant flowers are borne solitary or in groups of 2 or 3 on short, hairy stalks along the branches. They appear with new growth flushes, continuing as new growth proceeds and on old wood until midsummer. The flowers are made up of three fleshy, greenish-brown, oblong, downy outer petals and three smaller, pinkish inner petals. They are perfect but dichogamous, lasting approximately two days, and opening in two stages, first as female flowers for approximately 36 hours. and later as male flowers. The flower has a declining receptivity to pollen during the female stage and is unlikely to be pollinated by its own pollen in the male stage.

The fruit is cone or heart shaped, has juicy flesh, and can weigh up to 0.5 kg each. The fruit can be eaten raw. It tastes like banana and pineapple.


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

The cherimoya does not grow very well in lowland tropical areas, preferring elevations above 700 metres and growing well as high as 2,400 metres. It can also be grown in subtropical and warm temperate basically frost-free areas. Prefers a moist, sandy loam with a pH around 6. It grows well on a wide range of soil types from light to heavy, but seems to do best on a medium soil of moderate fertility. It prefers a pH in the range 6.5 – 7.6. The tree requires protection from strong winds that interfere with pollination and fruit set. This species has often escaped from cultivation and has become widely naturalized in subtropical to tropical climates. The cherimoya begins to bear when 3_ – 5 years old and production steadily increases from the 5th to the 10th year, when there should be a yield of 25 fruits/tree (5,000 per ha). In Colombia, the average yield is 25 fruits and in Italy, trees 30-35 years old produce 230-280 fruits annually. A problem with the cherimoya is inadequate natural pollination because the male and female structures of each flower do not mature simultaneously. Few insects visit the flowers. Therefore, hand-pollination is highly desirable and must be done in a 6 – 8 hour period when the stigmas are white and sticky. It has been found in Chile that in the first flowers to open the pollen grains are loaded with starch, whereas flowers that open later have more abundant pollen, no starch grains, and the pollen germinates readily. Partly-opened flowers are collected in the afternoons and kept in a paper bag overnight. The next morning the shed pollen is put, together with moist paper, in a vial and transferred by brush to the receptive stigmas. Usually only a few of the flowers on a tree are pollinated each time, the operation being repeated every 4-5 days in order to extend the season of ripening. The closely related A. Senegalensis, if available, is a good source of abundant pollen for pollinating the cherimoya, that of the sugar apple is not satisfactory. Fruits from hand-pollinated flowers are normally superior in form and size.

Seed – usually breeds true to type. Sow in individual pots, not deeper than 2cm, at 21c. Cherimoya seeds remain viable for 2 – 3 years if kept dry and protected from weevils and fungi. At 20C bottom heat, seeds germinate in about 21 days, but require about 40 days under normal ambient growing conditions. The seed of many species in this genus has a hard seedcoat and may benefit from scarification before sowing in order to speed up germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 – 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen – if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing. Semi-ripe cuttings. Cuttings of mature wood have rooted in coral sand with bottom heat in 28 days

Edible Uses:
Fruit is eaten raw. A delicious flavour, tasting like a cross between a banana and a pineapple. The white flesh of the ripe cherimoya is sweet, juicy and very fragrant. It is most commonly eaten out of-hand or scooped with a spoon from the cut open fruit. It can also be used in making ice cream, custard, cakes etc. The fruit is up to 20cm x 10cm and has a white pulp. The flesh is white in color, sweet, juicy, and fragrant. The fruit is used for making ice cream, custard, and cakes.

Medicinal Uses:
Rural people toast, peel and pulverize 1 or 2 seeds and take the powder with water or milk as a potent emetic and cathartic. Mixed with grease, the powder is applied on parasitic skin disorders. A decoction of the skin of the fruit is taken to relieve pneumonia.

The seed is powdered and used medicinally. It is then mixed with grease as treatment for parasitic skin disorders. Decoction of the fruit’s skin is used to relieve pneumonia.

Other Uses:
The seeds are crushed and used as insecticide. Mixed with grease, powdered seeds are used to kill lice.

Known Hazards: Blindness can result from the juice of the crushed seeds coming in contact with the eyes. The seeds and twigs contain several alkaloids including ( + )-reticuline, (-)-anonaine, liriodenine, and lanuginosine. Human ingestion of 0.15 g of the dark-yellow resin isolated from the seeds produces symptoms resembling the effects of atropine.(Seed is poisonous if ingested)

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


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