from Agroforestree Database:a tree reference and selection guide version 4.0
by Orwa C, A Mutua, Kindt R , Jamnadass R, S Anthony
Annona cherimola Mill
Local Names: Creole (cachiman
la Chine); English (custard apple,cherimoya); French
(anone,cherimolier); Portuguese (graviola,graveola,grabiola); Spanish
poshte,chirimolla,chirimoya,cherimoyer); Swahili (mtopetope,mtomoko)
Annona cherimola is a fairly dense, fast-growing, evergreen
tree, erect but low branched and somewhat shrubby or spreading; ranging
from 5 to 9 m in height; and its young branchlets are rusty-hairy.
attractive leaves are single and alternate, 2-ranked, with minutely
hairy petioles 6 to 12.5 mm long; ovate to elliptic or
ovate-lanceolate, short blunt-pointed at the apex; dark green and
slightly hairy on the upper surface, velvety on the underside; 7.5-15
cm long, 3.8-8.9 cm wide.
The fragrant flowers are borne
solitary or in groups of 2 or 3, on short, hairy stalks along the
branches, have 3 outer, greenish, fleshy, oblong, downy petals to 3 cm
long and 3 smaller, pinkish inner petals.
The compound fruit is
conical or somewhat heart-shaped, 10-20 cm long and up to 10 cm in
width, weighing on the average 150-500 g but extra large specimens may
weigh 2.7 kg or more. The skin may be smooth with fingerprint like
markings or covered with conical or rounded protuberances. The fruit
opens to expose the snow-white, juicy flesh, of pleasing aroma and
delicious, subacid flavor; and containing numerous hard, brown or
black, beanlike, glossy seeds, 1-2 cm long.
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.
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
handpollinated flowers are normally superior in form and size. The
leaves are briefly deciduous (just before spring flowering). The
flowers appear with new growth flushes in April to mid-summer and
fruits ripen from October to May in California.
cherimoya is subtropical or mild-temperate and does not succeed in the
lowland tropics. It requires long days. In Colombia and Ecuador, it
grows naturally at elevations between 1 400-2 000 m where the
temperature ranges between 17-20 deg. C. In Peru, the ideal climate for
the cherimoya lies between 18-25 deg. C in the summer and 18-5 deg. C
in winter. In Guatemala, naturalized trees are common between 1 200-2
500 m though the tree produces best between 1 200-1 800 m and can be
grown at elevations as low as 900 m. The tree cannot survive the cold
in the Valle de Mexico at 2 195 m. In Argentina, young trees are
wrapped with dry grass or burlap during the winter. The cherimoya can
tolerate light frosts. Young trees can withstand a temperature of
–3 deg. C, but a few degrees lower severely injures or kills
The tree prefers a rather dry environment as
in southern Guatemala where the rainfall is 127 cm and there is a long
dry season. The tree should be protected from strong winds that
interfere with pollination and fruit set.
Altitude: 700-2 400 m.
Mean annual temperature: 18-26 deg. C
Mean annual rainfall: 1250-2500 mm
type: The cherimoya tree performs well on a wide range of soil types
from light to heavy, but seems to do best on a medium soil of moderate
fertility. In Argentina, it makes excellent growth on rock-strewn,
loose, sandy loam 60-90 cm above a gravel subsoil. The optimum pH
ranges from 6.5-7.6. A greenhouse trial in sand has demonstrated that
the first nutritional deficiency evoked in such soil is lack of calcium.
Documented Species Distribution
map above shows countries where the species has been planted. It does
neither suggest that the species can be planted in every ecological
zone within that country, nor that the species can not be planted in
other countries than those depicted. Since some tree species are
invasive, you need to follow biosafety procedures that apply to your
Algeria, Australia, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Egypt, El
Salvador, Eritrea, France, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Italy, Jamaica,
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, Somalia, Spain, US,
Native range: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Israel
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. In Mexico, sometimes people add a few drops of
lime juice. Occasionally it is seeded and added to fruit salads or used
for making sherbet or ice cream. Colombians strain out the juice, add a
slice of lemon and dilute with ice-water to make a refreshing soft
drink. In Jamaica, the dried flowers have been used as flavoring for
Alcohol: . The fruit is fermented to produce an alcoholic beverage.
The seeds are crushed and used as insecticide. Blindness can result
from the juice of the crushed seeds coming in contact with the eyes.
The seeds contain several alkaloids: caffeine, ( + )-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. . Mixed with grease, powdered seeds
are used to kill lice.
The twigs possess the same alkaloids as the seeds plus michelalbine. 8 alkaloids have been reported in the leaves:
+ )-isoboldine, (-)-stepholidine, ( + )-corytuberine, ( + )
nornantenine, ( + )-reticuline, (-)-anonaine, liriodenine, and
Medicine: In Mexico, 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.
Intercropping: In the early years they are interplanted with corn, beans and potatoes.
young trees should be spaced 8-9 m apart each way in pits 50-60 cm
wide, enriched with organic material. In Colombia, corn, vegetables,
ornamental foliage plants, roses or annual flowers for market are
interplanted during the first few years. In Spain, the trees are
originally spaced 5 m apart with the intention of later thinning them
Pruning to eliminate low branches, providing a clean trunk
up to 80 cm, to improve form, and open up to sunlight and pesticide
control, is done preferably during dormancy. After 6 months, fertilizer
(10-8-6 NPK) is applied at the rate of 227 g/tree and again 6 months
later at 450 g/tree. In the 3rd year, the fertilizer formula is changed
to 6-10-8 NPK and each year thereafter the amount per tree is increased
by 450 g until the level of 2.27 kg is reached. Thenceforth this amount
is continued each year per tree. The fertilizer is applied in trenches
15 cm deep and 20 cm wide dug around each tree at a distance of 5 m
from the base, at first; later, at an appropriately greater distance.
trees are irrigated every 15-20 days for the first few years except
during the winter when they must be allowed to go dormant-ideally for 4
months. When the first leafbuds appear, irrigation is resumed. With
bearing trees, watering is discontinued as soon as the fruits are
The cherimoya begins to bear at 3 ½-5 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.
seeds remain viable for 2-3 years if kept dry and protected from
weevils and fungi. At 20 deg. C bottom heat, seeds germinate in about
21 days, but require about 40 days under normal ambient growing
Pests and Diseases
Caterpillars (Thecla sp. and Oiketicus kubeyi) may defoliate the tree. A scale insect, Conchaspis angraeci attacks the trunk and branches. Prime enemies are reported to be fruit flies (Anastrepha sp.), leaf miners (Leucoptera
sp.), which necessitate the collection and burning of affected leaves
plus the application of systemic insecticides; and the seed borer (Bephrata maculicollis).
The latter pest deposits eggs on the surface of the developing fruits,
the larvae invade the fruit and consume the seeds, causing premature
and defective ripening and rendering the fruits susceptible to fungal
The coccid, Pseudococcus filamentosus attacks the fruit in Hawaii, and Aulacaspis miranda
and Ceropute yuccae in Mexico. In Spain, the thin-skinned cultivar
'Pinchua' is subject to attack by the Mediterranean fruit-fly, Ceratitis capitata.
Cherimoyas are susceptible to Armillaria (Oak root fungus) and Verticillium sp. and should not be planted in old vegetable gardens, near tomatoes, eggplant or asters.
seeds for planting are subject to attack by weevils. To avoid
damping-off of young seedlings, dusting of seeds with fungicides is
recommended. The tree may succumb to root-rot in clay soils or where
there is too much moisture and insufficient drainage. Sooty mould may
occur on leaves and fruits where ants, aphids and other insects have
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/cherimoya.html IBPGR. 1986.
resources of tropical and subtropical fruits and nuts (excluding Musa).
International Board for Plant Genetic Resources, Rome.
Jackson D. 1986. Temperate and subtropical fruit production. Butterworth Horticultural Books.