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Annona squamosa - L.

Common Name Sugar Apple, Sweetsop, Custard Apple
Family Annonaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The seeds, leaves and roots are poisonous. Both an alkaloid, and hydrocyanic acid have been shown to occur in these parts of the plant.
Habitats Not known in a truly wild situation
Range Caribbean.
Edibility Rating    (5 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Annona squamosa Sugar Apple, Sweetsop, Custard Apple
Annona squamosa Sugar Apple, Sweetsop, Custard Apple


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Annona squamosa or Custard Apple is one of the most popular trees that are widely cultivated for its edible fruit. It is a small, semi-deciduous tree or shrub with broad, spreading branches. It can grow up to 8 m tall. The leaves are thin, simple, with fine hairs underneath, and arranged alternately. Each leaf is rounded at the base and pointed toward the tip. The aggregate fruit is edible, light green in color, round-shaped, and has a delicious white tinged yellow pulp. It is sweet and creamy, and consumed as dessert or used as an ingredient in making ice cream, jellies, etc. Custard apple tree not only functions as a fruit tree. It is also used medicinally in treating diarrhoea, dysentery, colds, chills, rheumatism, and sleeplessness. It also has an anticancer function and it lowers uric acid levels in the blood. The seeds, when heated, can produce oil that can be used against agricultural pests. However, it should be noted that the seeds, leaves, and roots are poisonous due to occurrence of alkaloid and hydrocyanic acid in such plant parts. Annona squamosa is a slow-growing tree. Fruiting starts at 2 years old. Like most species of Annona, custard apple is cold and frost-sensitive. It will not produce fruit well during droughts.

Physical Characteristics

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Annona squamosa is a deciduous Tree growing to 6 m (19ft) by 6 m (19ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Annona asiatica L. Annona biflora Mo?. & Sess? Annona cinerea Dunal Annona forskahlii DC. Guanabanus


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw. The sweet and creamy fruits are highly regarded as a dessert fruit[ 301 ]. They can also be used to make sherbet, ice cream, jellies etc[ 301 ]. The fruit is up to 10cm in diameter[ 200 ].

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.

Leaves, shoots, bark and roots have been reported to have medicinal properties[ 303 ]. They are all strongly astringent and are used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery[ 254 ]. The green fruits, seeds and leaves have effective vermicidal properties[ 303 ]. The young shoots, combined with peppermint, are used in the West Indies to relieve colds and chills[ 254 ]. In Cuba, the leaves are taken to lower uric acid levels in the blood[ 254 ]. The unripe fruit is astringent[ 303 ]. The root is a drastic purgative[ 303 ]. The bark and leaves, combined with those of Annona muricata, are used in a sedative infusion[ 348 ]. An infusion of the leaves and fruit is used to aid digestion and treat rheumatism[ 348 ]. An oil distilled from the leaves is applied to the head for treating sleeplessness[ 348 ]. The powdered seeds are an excellent vermifuge[ 348 ]. Extracts of the plant have shown anticancer activity[ 348 ].

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Other Uses

Other uses rating: Low (2/5). Other Uses Green fruits, seeds and leaves have effective vermicidal and insecticidal properties[ 303 ]. The seeds contain the insecticide acetogin[ 307 ]. The fibrous bark has sometimes been used locally for cordage[ 454 ]. The light yellow sapwood and brownish heartwood are soft, light in weight and weak[ 303 ]. The tree is a good source of firewood[ 303 ].

Special Uses

Cultivation details

Trees succeed in subtropical to tropical areas at elevations up to 2,000 metres, with a mean annual temperature up to 41c and a mean annual rainfall above 700mm[ 303 ]. They are said to do well in hot and relatively dry climates such as those of the low-lying interior plains of many tropical countries[ 303 ]. Plants can tolerate occasional light frosts[ 335 ]. Prefers a moist but well-drained, sandy loam with a pH around 6[ 200 ]. Also succeeds on rocky, alkaline soils with a pH up to 8[ 200 ]. The tree has a reputation, particularly in India, of being a hardy, drought-resistant crop. This is only partly correct. Although the rest period and leaf fall enable the tree to bridge a severe dry season, it requires adequate moisture during the growing season[ 303 ]. Trees start to bear fruit when 2 - 4 years old[ 303 ]. A mature tree, 5 metres high, produces several dozen fruits in a season[ 303 ]. There are some named varieties[ 301 ]. Fruit are often 200-300g each. The pulp is 20% sugar. The fruit is borne on old and new wood. As the fruit is more commonly on new wood, pruning is an advantage. A spacing of 6 m apart is suitable for sweetsop trees.

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Seed - usually breeds true to type[ 200 ]. Sow in individual pots, not deeper than 2cm, at 21c[ 200 ]. They germinate within 2 - 4 weeks, and the seedlings are ready for planting out after 6 months[ 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 ]. Budding is done at the beginning of the growing season when the sap flows freely. Cleft-grafting is the method more commonly used. Air-layering

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Annona squamosa or Custard Apple. Other Names: Ai piol, Anon morado, Anuune, Apeli, 'atis, Ata, Atis, Buah nona, Chirimoya crespa, Dawatsip, Fat manaova, Fruta-do-conde, Gam ja, Juructira, Kaneelappel, Khieb, Lanang, Makhiap, Man cau ta, Moumou, Mstafeli, Mufa, Na, Noi-nah, Noina, Nona sri kaya, Pinha, Rinon, Sarikaja, Seetaphal, Shareefa, Sharifa, Sirkaja, Sitafal, Sitaphal, Sri kaya, Sugar apple, Tiep baay, Tiep srok.

Found In

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

Found In: Africa, Andamans, Antilles, Asia, Australia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Caribbean, Central Africa, Central America, China, Colombia, Congo, Cook Islands, Cuba, Dominican Republic, East Africa, East Timor, Ecuador, Fiji, Gabon, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guianas, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Martinique, Mexico, Mozambique, Mayanmar, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Northeastern India, North America, Pacific, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, PNG, Reunion, Sao Tome, Saudi Arabia, SE Asia, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South America, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad-Tobago, Uganda, USA, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, West Africa, West Indies, Yemen.

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.

None Known

Conservation Status

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

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Annona mucosaWild SweetsopTree12.0 10-12 FLMHNM512
Annona muricataSour SopTree7.0 10-12 FLMHSNM432
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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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