From the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia, inc.
by Don and Chris Gray of Julatten


Seasons in Australia are opposite to those in the US, as summer is during the months of December, January and February. Autumn is March, April, May; winter is June, July, August; Spring is September, October and November.

The Rollinia

Scientific name: Rollinia deliciosa
Family: Annonaceae


Origin: Amazon, Brazil, South America
So far in Australia it is referred to as the Rollinia or Amazon Custard Apple.

Importance: In South America it is sold on streets and in the markets. It is a very useful tree to have in one's garden. Could be a very viable fresh fruit for Australian fresh fruit markets.

Description: The Rollinia is a rapid growing medium sized tree. It reaches a height of around 5 metres and has a spread of about 4 to 5 metres across. The tree is an attractive cone shape. The leaves are light green in colour, obovate-oblong and form to an average length of 30 cm and around 9 cm in width. The leaves are of a smooth texture with distinct veins at the back of the leaves like the rib bones of a fish. The veins are a slight yellow green in colour. The leaves hang off long slender branches which look like large feathers.

The flowers fork in clusters on little fresh new branches, which shoot out of the sides of the long slender main branches. The flowers usually hang in clusters of three or four flowers but only one of the flowers in these clusters reaches full size at a time. The flowers are three-petaled like the blades of a motor car fan and the flowers are slightly yellow green when mature. There is a small opening on the underside of the mature flowers into which small insects - flies, beetles and ants - crawl, which are attracted by the sweet smell of the flowers which is like a ripening custard apple. The unpollinated flowers fall off and the pollinated flowers form into little fruit. Abundance of flowers appear January/February, fruit set March-April. Mature fruit approximately five months after fruit set. The Rollinia flowers approximately 18 months from seed. Second season flowering more abundant, also other flowerings during the year but not so abundant.

Fruit: The fruit is roundish oblate in shape, 8 to 12 cm in diameter, cream yellow in colour with soft bumps or spines which protrude about 2 cm. The flesh is white or cream coloured, juicy sweet and of a pleasant flavour, much like a lemon meringue pie and the flesh just melts in one's mouth. Very delicious - hence the name Rollinia deliciosa. The best way to pick the fruit is to cut it from the tree with secateurs as soon as the fruit turns yellow. Eaten immediately is the best way, but it can be eaten even when spines turn a distinct black.

Production: The second season flowering when tree is approximately 3 years old gives an abundance of fruit. Bearing is moderate to heavy. Seems to have an early main crop around Aug-Sept-Oct and odd fruit in the remainder of the year.

Varieties: So far in Australia seedlings only are available, but seem to be true to seed.

Climate: The Rollinia is a tropical plant, so requires fairly hot conditions. Prospers equally well in sun or shade. Can tolerate light frosts, approximately 3°C on the grass. Seems to enjoy the cooler elevated climate in Julatten, 1200 ft above sea level. Will blow over in strong wind and rain. It is best to leave the tree lying down as propping up kills it. Leave all lower branches as this gives a micro climate around tree and also prevents a lot of root damage if the tree goes over.

Propagation: Propagation has been principally by seed, but experiments of grafting onto soursop, pond apple and bullock's heart have been successful.

Soils and Fertilizer: The tree requires a rich, loamy, well-drained position. Will grow in clay-ish soils but mounding would certainly help. Watering should not be overdone as too much water is likely to kill the tree.

Rollinia responds well to applications of potash, chicken manure and meat and bone meal, and lightly mulched. Keep mulch away from base of tree as this will prevent root rot. Zinc deficiency symptoms have been observed in the form of stunted shoot growth and yellowing of leaves. This can be corrected by spraying the leaves in spring with 10 grams of zinc sulphate in 10 litres of water. Spray with zinc again the following spring.



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Bibliography

Gray, Don and Chris. "The Rollinia." rfcarchives.org.au. Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia. July 1981. Web. 9 Feb. 2016.

Published 9 Feb. 2016 LR
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