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Overview

Brief Summary

Annona glabra, known as pond-apple, alligator-apple, swamp-apple, corkwood, and monkey-apple, is a tropical fruit tree in the family Annonaceae. Related species include cherimoya (A. cherimola) and soursop (A. muricata). It is native to southern Florida in the United States (including the Everglades), the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America, West Africa, and South Asia (Sri Lanka); it is an aggressive invader in the Pacific region.

A. glabra grows in swamps and tolerates saltwater; it cannot grow in dry soil. The trees reach a height of 15 m. They have thin, gray trunks, often buttressed at the base. Leaves, which are late deciduous, are ovate to oblong with an acute tip, 8–15 cm long and 4–6 cm wide. Flowers are solitary, 2–3 cm across, white to light yellow, with a rose-colored patch at each sepal base. Fruits are oblong to spherical, 7–15 cm long and up to 9 cm diameter (Wikipedia 2011).

Fruits disperse by floating on water. A. glabra appears to have naturally colonized West Africa from seeds transported on water from tropical America (Csurshes and Edwards 1998, ISSG 2011).

Pond-apple fruits are eaten by many animal species: the common name alligator-apple is said to come from the fact that American alligators eat the fruit. The fruit has pungent to aromatic flesh, which is edible for humans, and can be made into jam. Some people consider the flavor agreeable, while others have characterized it as “insipid” or “scarcely desirable” (FNA 2011, FOC 2011). The flavor and texture are considered inferior to the related cherimoya and soursop, and the fruit has never attained popular use. However, a recent study (Cochrane et al. 2008) suggests that an extract from pond-apple seeds contains anticancer compounds that could be used pharmaceutically.

A. glabra is used as a hardy rootstock for grafts of more commercially desirable related fruits, such as soursop and sugar-apple (A. squamosa). Other than this, it is not cultivated widely.

Through its introduction as a rootstock, however, A. glabra has escaped cultivation and become weedy or invasive in Pacific countries including Fiji, French Polynesia, Vietnam, and Australia (PIER 2011). The Global Invasive Species Database describes it as “a highly invasive woody weed that threatens wetland and riparian ecosystems of wet tropics, world heritage areas and beyond.” (ISSG 2011). It can invade fresh, brackish and saltwater areas and its thickets are capable of replacing whole ecosystems. Its seed is primarily dispersed by water, especially during floods. Disturbed flood-prone ecosystems are most at risk from pond apple invasion, particularly mangroves, melaleuca woodlands, riparian areas, drainage lines, coastal dunes and islands (Australian Government 2003). In estuaries and mangrove swamps, it can outcompete grasses and sedges, inhibit germination of Melaleuca species, and alter fire regimes (ISSG 2011).

It is categorized as a Class 2 weed in Australia, which indicates that it has spread over substantial areas of Australia (particularly in Queensland), and has serious impacts that must be controlled (Queensland 2007). Its sale in Australia for any purpose is prohibited.

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Comprehensive Description

Miscellaneous Details

"Notes: Western Ghats, Naturalised, Native of Tropical and Sub tropical America and W. Africa"
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Distribution

"Kerala: Alappuzha, Kottayam"
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Fla; West Indies; Mexico; Central America; South America; w Africa; South Asia (Sri Lanka).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Shrubs or trees , to ca. 15 m; trunks commonly buttressed at base. Principal leaves late deciduous; petiole 10-20mm. Leaf blade ovate to elliptic, 5-15 × 6(-8) cm, base broadly cuneate to rounded, apex acute to short-acuminate; surfaces glabrous. Inflorescences from leaf axils on new shoots, solitary flowers; peduncle stout, linear, club-shaped, to 2cm, becoming enlarged. Flowers: sepals reniform-cordate, 5-6 mm, glabrous; outer petals cream-white, ovate-cordate, adaxially concave, 2.5-3 cm, apex acute; inner petals cream-white, inside base deep purple, oblong-ovate, 2-2.5 cm, base cupped, incurved-cuneate, at least 2×3 length of outer petals, corrugate; stamens linear, 3-4 mm; connective thickened above anther tip; pistils conically massed, connate. Syncarp pendulous on thickened peduncle, dull yellow blotched with brown, ± ovoid, 5-12 cm, smooth with reticulate pattern formed by pistil boundaries. Seed ellipsoid to obovoid, 1-1.5 cm. 2 n =28.
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Diagnostic Description

Diagnostic

Habit: Tree
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Synonym

Annona palustris Linnaeus
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Ecology

Habitat

Marismas Nacionales-San Blas Mangroves Habitat

This taxon is found in the Marismas Nacionales-San Blas mangroves ecoregion contains the most extensive block of mangrove ecosystem along the Pacific coastal zone of Mexico, comprising around 2000 square kilometres. Mangroves in Nayarit are among the most productive systems of northwest Mexico. These mangroves and their associated wetlands also serve as one of the most important winter habitat for birds in the Pacific coastal zone, by serving about eighty percent of the Pacific migratory shore bird populations.

Although the mangroves grow on flat terrain, the seven rivers that feed the mangroves descend from mountains, which belong to the physiographic province of the Sierra Madre Occidental. The climate varies from temperate-dry to sub-humid in the summer, when the region receives most of its rainfall (more than 1000 millimetres /year).

Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans), Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus) and White Mangrove trees (Laguncularia racemosa) occur in this ecoregion. In the northern part of the ecoregion near Teacapán the Black Mangrove tree is dominant; however, in the southern part nearer Agua Brava, White Mangrove dominates. Herbaceous vegetation is rare, but other species that can be found in association with mangrove trees are: Ciruelillo (Phyllanthus elsiae), Guiana-chestnut (Pachira aquatica), and Pond Apple (Annona glabra).

There are are a number of reptiles present, which including a important population of Morelet's Crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii) and American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) in the freshwater marshes associated with tropical Cohune Palm (Attalea cohune) forest. Also present in this ecoregion are reptiles such as the Green Iguana (Iguana iguana), Mexican Beaded Lizard (Heloderma horridum) and Yellow Bellied Slider (Trachemys scripta). Four species of endangered sea turtle use the coast of Nayarit for nesting sites including Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Olive Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas).

A number of mammals are found in the ecoregion, including the Puma (Puma concolor), Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), Jaguar (Panthera onca), Southern Pygmy Mouse (Baiomys musculus), Saussure's Shrew (Sorex saussurei). In addition many bat taxa are found in the ecoregion, including fruit eating species such as the Pygmy Fruit-eating Bat (Artibeus phaeotis); Aztec Fruit-eating Bat (Artibeus aztecus) and Toltec Fruit-eating Bat (Artibeus toltecus); there are also bat representatives from the genus myotis, such as the Long-legged Myotis (Myotis volans) and the Cinnamon Myotis (M. fortidens).

There are more than 252 species of birds, 40 percent of which are migratory, including 12 migratory ducks and approximately 36 endemic birds, including the Bumblebee Hummingbird, (Atthis heloisa) and the Mexican Woodnymph (Thalurania ridgwayi). Bojórquez considers the mangroves of Nayarit and Sinaloa among the areas of highest concentration of migratory birds. This ecoregion also serves as wintering habitat and as refuge from surrounding habitats during harsh climatic conditions for many species, especially birds; this sheltering effect further elevates the conservation value of this habitat.

Some of the many representative avifauna are Black-bellied Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis), Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja), Snowy Egret (Egretta thula), sanderling (Calidris alba), American Kestrel (Falco sparverius), Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors), Mexican Jacana (Jacana spinosa), Elegant Trogan (Trogan elegans), Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra), White-tailed Hawk (Buteo albicaudatus), Merlin (Falco columbarius), Plain-capped Starthroat (Heliomaster constantii), Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) and Wood Stork (Mycteria americana).

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Comments: Swamps and ponds.

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Wet substrates, brackish to fresh, in pond borders, tidally influenced stream banks, banks of estuaries and lakes; 0-50m.
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Depth range based on 4 specimens in 1 taxon.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 1 - 1
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering spring-early summer.
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Life Cycle

Persistence: PERENNIAL, Long-lived

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Annona glabra

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Annona glabra

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 11
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N2 - Imperiled

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: In South America, found from the Guyanas south to Santa Catarina (Santos 1987). Found in southern Florida, and widely distributed in Tropical America as well as the coast of West Africa. Found in swamps and on pond banks.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Uses: FOOD, Fruit

Comments: The fruit is edible and common to Panama. Brucher (1984) states "We have seen it growing wild on the banks of rivers in Panama. Its smallish fruits have a pleasent odour, yellow flesh and black kernels. It cannot be excluded that A. glabra may be an ancestral form of some of the domesticates." Used in carpentry and for boxes, batten (translated from "ripas", Portugese) and boat masts (Santos 1987).

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Wikipedia

Annona glabra

Annona glabra is a tropical fruit tree in the family Annonaceae, in the same genus as the Soursop and Cherimoya. Common names include Pond-apple, Alligator-apple (called so because American Alligators sometimes eat the fruit.)[1] Swamp apple, Corkwood, Bobwood, and Monkey-apple. The tree is native to Florida in the United States, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and West Africa.[2] It is common in the Everglades. It grows in swamps, is tolerant of saltwater, and cannot grow in dry soil.

Description[edit]

The trees grow to a height of around 10–12 m. They have thin, gray trunks and sometimes grow in clumps. The leaves are ovate to oblong with an acute tip, 8–15 cm long and 4–6 cm broad with a prominent midrib. The upper surface is light to dark green. The fruit is oblong to spherical and apple-sized or larger, 7–15 cm long and up to 9 cm diameter, and falls when it is green or ripening yellow. It disperses by floating to new locations, and it is food for many animal species such as wild boar. Reproduction begins after 2 years. A fruit contains 100 or more pumpkin-like seeds, about 1 cm. long.[3]

Uses[edit]

Unlike the other Annona species the pulp of the fruit when ripe is yellow to orange instead of white.[4] The fruit is edible for humans and its taste is reminiscent of ripe Honeydew melon. It can be made into jam and it is a popular ingredient of fresh fruit drinks in the Maldives.[5]

The flesh is sweet-scented and agreeable in flavor, but it has never attained general popular use unlike Soursop and other related fruits. Experiments in South Florida have been made in an attempt to use it as a superior rootstock for Sugar-apple or Soursop. While the grafts initially appear to be effective a high percentage of them typically fail over time. Soursop on Pond-apple rootstock has a dwarfing effect.

A recent[vague] study suggests that its alcoholic seed extract contains anticancer compounds that could be used pharmaceutically.[6]

Invasive Species[edit]

It is a very troublesome invasive species in northern Queensland in Australia and Sri Lanka, where it grows in estuaries and chokes mangrove swamps. Its seedlings carpet the banks and prevent other species from germinating or thriving. It also affects farms as it grows along fencelines and farm drains. It also invades and transforms undisturbed areas.[7] In Sri Lanka it was introduced as a grafting stock for custard apples and spread into wetlands around Colombo.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWard, Artemas (1911). The Grocer's Encyclopedia. 

  1. ^ Standley, Paul C. (1922). "Trees and Shrubs of Mexico". United States National Herbarium 23 (2): 281–282. 
  2. ^ "Annona glabra". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  3. ^ a b Lalith Gunasekera, Invasive Plants: A guide to the identification of the most invasive plants of Sri Lanka, Colombo 2009, p. 112–113.
  4. ^ Annona glabra fruit
  5. ^ FAO Trees and shrubs of the Maldives
  6. ^ Cochrane CB, Nair PK, Melnick SJ, Resek AP, Ramachandran C (2008). "Anticancer effects of Annona glabra plant extracts in human leukemia cell lines". Anticancer Research (International Institute of Anticancer Research) 28 (2A): 965–71. PMID 18507043. 
  7. ^ ”Pond apple (Annona glabra) weed management guide”, Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Canberra, at http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive/weeds/publications/guidelines/wons/pubs/a-glabra.pdf
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Notes

Comments

Annona glabra ( Annona sect. Phelloxylon Safford) has edible although scarcely desirable, yellow-fleshed fruits. The sectional name (Greek phellos , cork and xylon , wood) is descriptive because small sections of the very light wood have been used as floats by fishermen. Forms with smaller leaves and fruit have been considered a species referable to A . palustris (J. K. Small 1933); W. E. Safford (1914) considered them to be of no taxonomic consequence.
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