The Cherimoya Annona cherimola is a species of Annona native to the highland valleys of Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia. It is a deciduous or semi-evergreen shrub or small tree reaching 7 m tall. The leaves are alternate, simple, oblong-lanceolate, 7-15 cm long and 6-10 cm broad. The flowers are produced in small clusters, each flower 2-3 cm across, with six petals, yellow-brown, often spotted purple at the base.
The fruit is oval, often slighly oblique, 10-20 cm long and 7-10 cm diameter, with a smooth or slightly tuberculated skin. The fruit flesh is white, and has numerous seeds embedded in it.
Cultivation and uses
The tree thrives throughout the tropics at altitudes of 1300-1700m (4,000-5,000 feet). The name derives from Quechua "chirimuya", meaning "cold seeds", since the seeds will germinate at higher altitudes. Though sensitive to frost, it must have periods of cool temperatures or the tree will gradually go dormant. The indigenous inhabitants of the Andes say that although the cherimoya cannot stand snow, it does like to see it in the distance. It is cultivated in many places throughout the Americas, as far north as California.
The fruit is fleshy and soft, sweet, white in color, with a custard-like texture. Some characterize the flavor as a blend of pineapple, mango and strawberry. Similar in size to a grapefruit, it has large, glossy seeds that are easily removed. The seeds are poisonous if crushed open; one should also avoid eating the skin. When ripe the skin is green and gives slightly to pressure, similar to the avocado. Ripe fruit may be kept in the refrigerator, but it is best to let immature cherimoyas ripen at room temperature. If the skin is brown it is over-ripe.
Mark Twain called the cherimoya "the most delicious fruit known to men".
- Sugar-apple (Annona squamosa)
- Custard-apple (Annona reticulata)
- Atemoya (a cross of A. squamosa and A. cherimola)
- Scintro fruit book (http://www.scintro.com) - All about fruits.