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ANNONA squamosa

Image of Annona squamosa

Forest & Kim Starr

Family

Annonaceae

Botanical Name

ANNONA squamosa

Plant Common Name

Sugar Apple

General Description

This is a small, tropical semi-deciduous tree, named and grown for its unusual, delicious fruits called sugar apples, sweetsops or custard apples. They have a thick rind divided into knobby segments that separate when the fruit ripens to reveal conical, creamy-white segments of sweet, fragrant flesh, some containing a single seed. The flowers are fragrant and bloom on the branch tips singly or in clusters of two to four. Never fully open, they are yellow-green on the outside and pale yellow on the inside. The irregular branches and zig-zagging twigs make an open crown. The leaves are dark-green above and a lighter green below.

Even a slight frost may injure or kill this tree, so it is grown mainly in tropical and sub-tropical regions. It is not fussy about soil. It grows and fruits best in dry regions, when given water, but needs humidity when flowering for adequate pollination In drought, the fruit rind hardens and will split when rain arrives. Dry winters also lead to more loss of foliage. This tree grows best in full sun to part sun in fertile, well-drained soil.

The fruit is usually eaten fresh, the flesh chewed and swallowed, the seeds spat out. This is an acquired skill; the seeds are toxic and must not be eaten. In Malaysia the fruit is sieved to remove the seeds and the flesh is used in ice cream or milk for a cool drink. Flowering and fruiting occur in the summer. The softball-sized wide fleshy fruit are light-green with overlapping segments. The sweet flesh is white with many black seeds and the individual segments separate at maturity. The fruit may be eaten fresh or made into drinks and ice cream. 'Kampong Mauve' has mauve-colored fruit that is sweeter than regular varieties.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 9

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 13

  • Plant Type

    Fruit

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    15'-20' / 4.6m - 6.1m

  • Width

    20'-25' / 6.1m - 7.6m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    Caribbean, South America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Yellow Green

  • Fruit Color

    Light Green, Sea Green

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Light Green

  • Bark Color

    Slate Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    Yes

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Semi-Evergreen

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Fruit / Fruit Tree, Shade Trees, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No