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In some regions of the world, the sugar-apple is also known as custard-apple, a different plant in the same genus.
Annona squamosa (Sugar-apple, Sweetsop or Custard Apple) is a species of Annona native to the tropical Americas. Its exact native range is unknown due to extensive cultivation, but thought to be in the Caribbean; the species was described from Jamaica.
It is a semi-evergreen shrub or small tree reaching 6-8 m tall. The leaves are alternate, simple, oblong-lanceolate, 5-17 cm long and 2-5 cm broad. The flowers are produced in clusters of 3-4, each flower 1.5-3 cm across, with six petals, yellow-green spotted purple at the base.
The fruit is usually round or oval, slightly pine cone-like, 6-10 cm diameter and weighing 100-230 g, with a scaly or lumpy skin. The fruit flesh is edible, white to light yellow, and resembles and tastes like custard. The seeds are scattered through the fruit flesh; they are blackish-brown, 12-18 mm long, and hard and shiny.
Additional recommended knowledge
Different cultures have many names for the species. In English it is most widely known as Sugar-apple or Sweetsop, also sometimes custard-apple (especially in India) though technically incorrectly, as this name usually refers to another closely related species. In Latin America regional names include anón, anón de azucar, anona blanca, fruta do conde, cachiman, saramuyo, and many others. In India it is known as aarticum, "shareefa", sitaphal or seethaphal (literally meaning "sita fruit" as the fruit has too many seeds and monkeys don't eat them. Monkeys are believed to be friends of Rama, Sita's husband), and in Indonesia, srimatikiya or mostly people call it as "srikaya". The Taiwanese call it Sakya (traditional Chinese: 釋迦; pinyin: shìjiā; Taiwanese: suck-khia, suck-kia) because one cultivar resembles the top part of Sakyamuni's (釋迦牟尼) head. Its name in Burmese is aajaa thee. In the Philippines it is called atis. In Thailand it is called Noi-Na (น้อยหน่า) which is also the common name for a hand-grenade because of its appearance. In Vietnam, it is called trái mãng cầu ta or na. In Brazil, it is called fruta do conde, pinha or ata. In the Middle East region, it is called "achta".
Cultivation and uses
Sugar-apple fruit is high in calories and is a good source of iron. It is the most widely cultivated of all the species of Annona, being grown widely throughout the tropics and warmer subtropics; it was introduced to southern Asia before 1590. It is naturalized north to southern Florida in the United States and south to Bahia in Brazil, and is an invasive species in some areas.
Like most species of Annona, it requires a tropical or subtropical climate with summer temperatures from 25 ° to 41 °C, and mean winter temperatures above 15 °C. It is sensitive to cold and frost, being defoliated below 10 °C and killed by temperatures of a few degrees below freezing. It is only moderately drought-tolerant, requiring rainfall above 700 mm, and not producing fruit well during droughts.
It is quite a prolific bearer and will produce fruit in as little as two to three years. A tree five years old may produce as many as 50 sugar-apples. Poor fruit production has been reported in Florida because there are few natural pollinators (honeybees have a difficult time penetrating the tightly closed female flowers); however hand pollination with a natural fiber brush is effective in increasing yield.
In the Philippines, the fruit is commonly eaten by the Philippine Fruit Bat (Kabag or Kabog) which then spreads the seeds from island to island.
In the Philippines there is a company that produces Sugar apple wine.
It is a host plant for larvae of the butterfly Graphium agamemnon (Tailed Jay).
It is used by some societies in India to prepare a hair tonic. The seeds are also ground and applied to rid the hair of lice.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Sugar-apple". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|