Annona cherimola, known as cherimoya, is a neotropical edible fruit-bearing species in the Annonaceae (the custard-apple family), native to the Andes but now widely cultivated for its sweet fruits in tropical regions worldwide (NAS 1989). The Inca (Quechua) name for it is chirimuya, which means means "cold seeds," because the plant grows at high altitudes and the seeds will germinate at higher altitudes, although the tree will not tolerate freezing temperatures.
The species originated in the Andes (in Ecuador, Peru, and Chile) in South America, but is now grown throughout South and Central America (and in the U.S., in California, Florida, and Hawaii) and the Caribbean, as well is in parts of Europe (near the Mediterranean), Africa, India and other parts of Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. Commercial cultivation, however, is primarily in South America, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Israel, Australia, and New Zealand, with a dozen cultivars in commercial use. Outside its native range, the plant must be hand-pollinated for best fruit production; the labor-intensive requirement for hand pollination has constrained commercial production (NAS 1989, University of California 2011).
Cherimoya is a fairly dense, fast-growing, woody, mostly evergreen (but may be briefly deciduous), low-branched, spreading tree or shrub 5–9 meters tall. Young branches and twigs have a matting of short, fine, rust colored hairs. The leaves are alternate, simple, oblong-lanceolate, 7–15 cm long and 6–10 cm broad. The flowers are produced in small clusters, each flower 2–3 cm across, with six petals, yellow-brown, often spotted purple at the base. The fruit is oval, often slightly oblate, 10–20 cm long and 7–10 cm in diameter, with a smooth or slightly tuberculated (knobby) skin, which may appear to have overlapping scales or knobby warts. When ripe, the skin is green and gives slightly to pressure, similar to the avocado. Fruits generally weigh 150–500 grams but large specimens may grow to 2.7 kilograms or more.
Cherimoya fruits, which are usually eaten fresh (see YouTube video, How to Eat Cherimoya), have creamy, white flesh with numerous hard, inedible, glossy dark brown or black seeds embedded in it, 1–2 cm long and about half as wide. Mark Twain called the cherimoya "the most delicious fruit known to men" (Twain, 1868). The fruit is fleshy and soft, sweet, with a sherbet-like texture, which gives it its secondary name, custard apple. Some characterize the flavor as a blend of banana, pineapple, papaya, peach, and strawberry. Fresh cherimoya contains about 15% sugar (about 60kcal/100g) and some vitamin C (up to 20 mg/100g), as well as moderate amounts of calcium, phosphorus, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin (NAS 1989).
Cherimoya and other members of the Annonaceae family also contain small amounts of neurotoxic alkaloids, such as annonacin, which appear to be linked to atypical Parkinsonism in Guadeloupe if consumed frequently or in large quantities (Champy et al. 2005, Caparros-Lefebvre and Elbaz 1999). The seeds are poisonous if crushed open. An extract of the bark can induce paralysis if injected.
- Caparros-Lefebvre, D., and A. Elbaz A. 1999. Possible relation of atypical parkinsonism in the French West Indies with consumption of tropical plants: a case-control study. Caribbean Parkinsonism Study Group. Lancet 354(9175):281-6. PMID: 10440304
- Champy, P., A. Melot, V. Guérineau Eng, C. Gleye, D. Fall, G.U. Höglinger, M. Ruberg, A. Lannuzel, O. Laprévote, A. Laurens, and R. Hocquemiller. 2005. Quantification of acetogenins in Annona muricata linked to atypical parkinsonism in Guadeloupe. Movement Disorders 20(12): 1629-33. PMID: 16078200.
- NAS. 1989. Lost Crops of the Incas: Little-Known Plants of the Andes with Promise for Worldwide Cultivation. Ad Hoc Panel of the Advisory Committee on Technology Innovation, Board on Science and Technology for International Development, National Research Council. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
- Twain, Mark. Sacramento Daily Union. 25 October 1866. Retrieved 31 October from http://www.twainquotes.com/18661025u.html.
- University of California Cooperative Extension. 2011. Agriculture and Natural Resources Ventura County: Cherimoya. Retrieved 31 October 2011 from http://ceventura.ucdavis.edu/Com_Ag/Subtropical/Minor_Subtropicals/Cherimoya_/.
Localities documented in Tropicos sources
Bolivia (South America)
Colombia (South America)
Ecuador (South America)
El Salvador (Mesoamerica)
Gabon (Africa & Madagascar)
Peru (South America)
Costa Rica (Mesoamerica)
Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
- SPECIMEN BASED RECORD. Published protolog data. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/9990002
- Killeen, T. J., E. García Estigarribia & S. G. Beck. (eds.) 1993. Guia Arb. Bolivia 1–958. Herbario Nacional de Bolivia & Missouri Botanical Garden, La Paz. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1000017
- Lawesson, J. E., H. Adsersen & P. Bentley. 1987. An updated and annotated check list of the vascular plants of the Galapagos Islands. Rep. Bot. Inst. Univ. Aarhus 16: 1–74. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/43197
- Porter, D. M. 1983. Vascular plants of the Galapagos: Origins and dispersal. 33–54. In M. B. R. I. Bowman & A. E. Leviton Patt. Evol. Galapagos Org. Pacific Division, AAAS, San Francisco. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/43214
- Molina Rosito, A. 1975. Enumeración de las plantas de Honduras. Ceiba 19(1): 1–118. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/866
- Linares, J. L. 2003 . Listado comentado de los árboles nativos y cultivados en la república de El Salvador. Ceiba 44(2): 105–268. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1029566
- Foster, R. C. 1958. A catalogue of the ferns and flowering plants of Bolivia. Contr. Gray Herb. 184: 1–223. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1313
- ORSTOM. 1988. List Vasc. Pl. Gabon Herbier National du Gabon, Yaounde. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1671
- Trusty, J. L., H. C. Kesler & G. H. Delgado. 2006. Vascular Flora of Isla del Coco, Costa Rica. Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci., ser. 4, 57(7): 247–355. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1029752
- Nee, M. 2004. Magnoliidae, Hamamelidae y Caryophyllidae. 2: 1–209. In M. Nee Fl. Reg. Parque Nac. Amboró Bolivia. Editorial FAN, Santa Cruz. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1029643
- Chatrou, L. W., P. J. M. Maas, C. P. Repetur & H. Rainer. 1997. Preliminary list of Ecuadorean Annonaceae. 97–122. In Estud. Div. Ecol. Pl. Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador; Aarhus University, Quito; Århus. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1005479
- Fries, R. E. 1938. Annonaceae, Flora of Peru. Publ. Field Mus. Nat. Hist., Bot. Ser. 13(2/3): 700–766. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1277
- Standley, P. C. & J. A. Steyermark. 1946. Annonaceae. In Standley, P.C. & Steyermark, J.A. (Eds), Flora of Guatemala - Part IV. Fieldiana, Bot. 24(4): 270–294. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/6388
- Correa A., M. D., C. Galdames & M. N. S. Stapf. 2004. Cat. Pl. Vasc. Panamá 1–599. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1031911
- Jørgensen, P. M. & S. León-Yánez. (eds.) 1999. Catalogue of the vascular plants of Ecuador. Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 75: i–viii, 1–1181. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/42250
- Breedlove, D. E. 1986. Flora de Chiapas. Listados Floríst. México 4: i–v, 1–246. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/513
- Wiggins, I. L. & D. M. Porter. 1971. Fl. Galápagos Isl. i–xx, 1–998. Stanford University Press, Stanford. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/73
- Flora of China Editorial Committee. 2011. Fl. China 19: 1–884. Science Press & Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Beijing & St. Louis. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/100003187
- Pérez, A., M. Sousa Sánchez, A. M. Hanan-Alipi, F. Chiang Cabrera & P. Tenorio L. 2005. Vegetación terrestre. 65–110. In Biodivers. Tabasco. CONABIO-UNAM, México. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1030034
- Brako, L. & J. L. Zarucchi. (eds.) 1993. Catalogue of the Flowering Plants and Gymnosperms of Peru. Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 45: i–xl, 1–1286. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/7728
- Idárraga-Piedrahita, A., R. D. C. Ortiz, R. Callejas Posada & M. Merello. 2011. Flora de Antioquia. Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares, vol. 2. Listado de las Plantas Vasculares del Departamento de Antioquia. Pp. 1-939. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/100008595
- D'Arcy, W. G. 1987. Flora of Panama. Checklist and Index. Part 1: The introduction and checklist. Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 17: v–xxx, 1–328. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1289
- García-Mendoza, A. J. & J. Meave del Castillo. 2011. Divers. Florist. Oaxaca 1–351. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/100009052
- Adolfo Maria, H. 1966. Nóm. Pl. Recol. Valle Cochabamba 2: 17–86. Colegio La Salle, Cochabamba. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1018799
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Annona cherimola
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
Annona cherimola, originally called Chirimuya by the Inca people who lived where it was growing in the Andes of South America, is an edible fruit-bearing species of the genus Annona from the family Annonaceae. It is now widely cultivated mostly for its sweet fruits that share the name Custard-apple with others in its family. Other English common names include cherimoya, chirimoyo, momona, kelemoio.
- Stems and leaves
- Mature branches are sappy and woody; young branches and twigs have a matting of short, fine, rust colored hairs.
- Leathery leaves 5 centimetres (2.0 in) to 25 centimetres (9.8 in) long 3 centimetres (1.2 in) to 10 centimetres (3.9 in) wide mostly elliptic, rounded at the ends and pointed near the leaf stalk. When young, covered with soft, fine, tangled, rust colored hairs. When mature, hairs only along the veins on the undersurface. Tops hairless and a dull medium green with paler veins, backs velvety, dull grey-green with raised pale green veins. New leaves are whitish below.
- Leaves are single and alternate, 2-ranked attached to the branches with stout 6 millimetres (0.24 in) to 10 millimetres (0.39 in) long and densely hairy leaf stalks.
- Very pale green, fleshy flowers 3 centimetres (1.2 in) long, with very strong fruity odor, each with three outer, greenish, fleshy, oblong, downy petals and 3 smaller, pinkish inner petals with yellow or brown finely matted hairs outside, whitish with purple spot and many stamens on the inside. They appear on the branches opposite to the leaves, solitary or in pairs or groups of three, on flower stalks that are covered densely with fine rust colored hairs, 8 millimetres (0.31 in) to 12 millimetres (0.47 in) long. Buds 15 millimetres (0.59 in) to 18 millimetres (0.71 in) long, 5 millimetres (0.20 in) to 8 millimetres (0.31 in) wide at the base.
- Fruits and reproduction
- Large green conical or heart-shaped compound fruit, 10 centimetres (3.9 in) to 20 centimetres (7.9 in) long, and diameters of 5 centimetres (2.0 in) to 5 centimetres (2.0 in), with skin that gives the appearance of having overlapping scales or knobby warts. Ripening to brown with a fissured surface from winter into spring; weighing on the average 150 grams (5.3 oz) to 500 grams (18 oz) but extra large specimens may weigh 2.7 kilograms (6.0 lb) or more. The ripened flesh is creamy white and contains numerous hard, inedible, brown or black, beanlike, glossy seeds, 1 centimetre (0.39 in) to 2 centimetres (0.79 in) long and about half as wide.
- Hand pollinated flowers give more fruits.
- Annona cherimola, preferring the cool Andean altitudes, hybridizes with the other Annona species and a hybrid with A. reticulata called atemoya has received some attention in West Africa. Along with other Annona species, Annona cherimola has been shown to possess antioxidant activity in its flesh and skin components 
Widely cultivated now, Annona cherimola is believed to originate from the Andes at altitudes of 700 metres (2,300 ft) to 2,400 metres (7,900 ft) although an alternate hypothesis postulates Central America as the origin of Annona cherimola because many of its wild relatives occur in this area. From there it was taken by Europeans to various parts of the tropics. Unlike other Annona species A. cherimola has not successfully naturalized in West Africa, and in Australasia Annona glabra is often misidentified as this species.
- Current (naturalized and native)
- Palearctic: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, France, Italy, Spain(Almuñécar, Costa Tropical), Madeira
- Afrotropic: Eritrea, Somalia, Tanzania,
- Indomalaya: India, Singapore
- Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) (1997-07-11). "Taxon: Annona cherimola L.". Taxonomy for Plants. USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program, National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?3479. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
- Bioversity International. "Result set for: Annonaceae Annona cherimola". New World Fruits Database. http://www.bioversityinternational.org/Information_Sources/Species_Databases/New_World_Fruits_Database/qryall3.asp?intIDSpecies=86. Retrieved 2008-04-17.[dead link]
- Porcher, Michel H. et al.. "Annona cherimola L.". Sorting Annona Names. Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database - A Work in Progress. Institute of Land & Food Resources, University of Melbourne. Archived from the original on 30 April 2008. http://www.plantnames.unimelb.edu.au/Sorting/Annona.html#cherimola. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
- "Current name: Annona cherimola". AgroForestryTree Database. International Center For Research In Agroforestry. http://www.worldagroforestrycentre.org/sea/Products/AFDbases/af/asp/SpeciesInfo.asp?SpID=1728. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
- EEB Greenhouse Staff, University of Connecticut (2008-04-10). "Annona cherimola Mill.". Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Greenhouses. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Greenhouses. http://titanarum.uconn.edu/199500093.html. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
- Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) (2008-04-09). "Annona cherimola (PIER Species info)". PIER species lists. United States Geological Survey & United States Forest Service. Archived from the original on 12 May 2008. http://www.hear.org/pier/species/annona_cherimola.htm. Retrieved 2008-04-17. "Wiggins, I. L.Porter, D. M. 1971. Flora of the Galapágos Islands. Stanford University Press. 998 pp."
- Flynn, Tim (2002-05-22). "Record Detail ANNONACEAE Annona cherimola Mill.". Herbarium Database. National Tropical Botanical Garden. http://ntbg.org/herbarium/detail.php?tempid=20352. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
- Aluka. "Entry for Annona cherimola Mill. [family ANNONACEAE"]. African Plants. Ithaka Harbors, Inc. http://www.aluka.org/action/showMetadata?doi=10.5555/AL.AP.UPWTA.1_227&pgs=. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
- Gupta-Elera G, Garrett AR, Martinez A, Robison RA, O'Neill KL (2010). "The antioxidant properties of the cherimoya (annona cherimola) fruit". Food Research International. doi:10.1016/j.foodres.2010.10.038.
- van Zonneveld M, Scheldeman X, Escribano P, Viruel MA, Van Damme P, et al. 2012 Mapping Genetic Diversity of Cherimoya (Annona cherimola Mill.): Application of Spatial Analysis for Conservation and Use of Plant Genetic Resources. PLoS ONE 7(1): e29845.
- Aluka. "Entry for Annona glabra Linn. [family ANNONACEAE"]. African Plants. Ithaka Harbors, Inc. http://www.aluka.org/action/showMetadata?doi=10.5555/AL.AP.UPWTA.1_229&pgs=. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
- Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). "PLANTS Profile, Annona cherimola Mill.". The PLANTS Database. United States Department of Agriculture,. http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ANCH9. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
- Australian Plant Name Index (APNI). "Search results". Integrated Botanical Information System (IBIS). Australian Plant Name Index (APNI). http://www.anbg.gov.au/cgi-bin/apni. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
- Landcare Research. "1 *A. cherimola Miller, Gard. Dict. ed. 8 (1768)". New Zealand Plant Names Database. Landcare Research Allan Herbarium and New Zealand Plant Names Database. http://floraseries.landcareresearch.co.nz/pages/Taxon.aspx?id=_9d7890ef-eee5-4d90-a490-1245f1f1e738&fileName=Flora%204.xml#_9d7890ef-eee5-4d90-a490-1245f1f1e738. Retrieved 2008-04-17. "Cherimoya is cultivated in warmer parts of the North Id, especially in the Bay of Plenty. Frs form regularly in the North Id but apparently never form on Raoul."
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