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Annona cherimola - Mill.

Common Name Cherimoya, Custard Apple
Family Annonaceae
USDA hardiness 8-12
Known Hazards Blindness can result from the juice of the crushed seeds coming in contact with the eyes[ 303 ]. 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[ 303 ].(Seed is poisonous if ingested)
Habitats Not known
Range Western S. America - Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador.
Edibility Rating    (5 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Half Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Annona cherimola Cherimoya, Custard Apple

Annona cherimola Cherimoya, Custard Apple


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Cherimoya or Custard Apple (Annona cherimola) is a small deciduous tree that grows up to 6 - 10 m tall. The fruit is cone or heart shaped, has juicy flesh, and can weigh up to 0.5 kg each. 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. The fruit can be eaten raw. It tastes like banana and pineapple. The flesh is white in color, sweet, juicy, and fragrant. The fruit is used for making ice cream, custard, and cakes. The crushed seed is used as an insecticide. Other Names: Anona, Chirimoya, Chermoya, Hanuman phala, Noina ostrelia, Sherbet-fruit.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Annona cherimola is a deciduous Tree growing to 9 m (29ft) by 9 m (29ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 9 and is not frost tender.
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: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly 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.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw. A delicious flavour, tasting like a cross between a banana and a pineapple[ 301 ]. 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[ 303 ]. It can also be used in making ice cream, custard, cakes etc[ 301 ]. The fruit is up to 20cm x 10cm and has a white pulp[ 200 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

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[ 303 ]. A decoction of the skin of the fruit is taken to relieve pneumonia[ 303 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


Other uses rating: Low (2/5). Other Uses: The seeds are crushed and used as insecticide[ 303 ]. Mixed with grease, powdered seeds are used to kill lice[ 303 ].

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

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[ 303 ]. It can also be grown in subtropical and warm temperate basically frost-free areas. Prefers a moist, sandy loam with a pH around 6[ 200 ]. 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[ 303 ]. It prefers a pH in the range 6.5 - 7.6[ 303 ]. The tree requires protection from strong winds that interfere with pollination and fruit set[ 303 ]. This species has often escaped from cultivation and has become widely naturalized in subtropical to tropical climates[ 200 ]. 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)[ 303 ]. In Colombia, the average yield is 25 fruits and in Italy, trees 30-35 years old produce 230-280 fruits annually[ 303 ]. 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[ 303 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - usually breeds true to type[ 200 ]. Sow in individual pots, not deeper than 2cm, at 21c[ 200 ]. 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[ 303 ]. 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[ K ]. Semi-ripe cuttings[ 200 ]. Cuttings of mature wood have rooted in coral sand with bottom heat in 28 days[ 303 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Anona, Chirimoya, Chermoya, Hanuman phala, Noina ostrelia, Sherbet-fruit.

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Found In: Africa, Andes, Antilles, Asia, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Cameroon, Caribbean, Central Africa, Central America, Chile, China, Colombia, Cook Islands, East Africa, Ecuador, Guianas, Guinea, Guin?e, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, India, Indochina, Israel, Jamaica, Kenya, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, North America, Pacific, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Puerto Rico, SE Asia, Spain, South Africa, Southern Africa, South America, Spain, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, USA, Venezuela, Vietnam, West Africa, Zimbabwe.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Possibly invasive in Easter Island, the Galapagos, Hawaii, and New Zealand.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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