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Cherimoya, photo courtesy of Pam Peirce/Susan A. Roth & Co.
Cherimoya, photo courtesy of Pam Peirce/Susan A. Roth & Co.

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Zones 21-24, H1, H2
Full Sun
Regular Water
toxic seeds cause gastric upset

Annona cherimola

Deciduous, Edible fruit, Trees

Native to the high-elevation American tropics, this small tree (Annona cherimola) yields yellow-green fruits whose custardy flesh tastes like pineapple crossed with banana. Hardy to about 25°F (°4°C). Grows fast the first 3 to 4 years, then slows, eventually forming a tree12°15 ft. tall and wide, or 30 ft. unpruned. Leaves are 4°10 in.long, dull green above, velvety-hairy beneath; they drop in late spring, but tree quickly replaces them. Thick, fleshy, 1-in., hairy brownish or yellow flowers with a fruity fragrance open for 3 to 4 months beginning around leaf drop.

Large fruits weigh 1/2°1 1/2 lb.,and trees can bear 25 to 100fruits per year. Harvest fruit inlate fall or winter, when it turnsyellowish green. Thin, tenderskin of most varieties resembles short overlapping leaves of artichokes; can be warty. Let fruit mature indoors at room temperature; when ripe, it turns a dull brownish green (some varieties show tan freckles) and yields to gentle pressure like a ripe peach. Refrigerate ripe fruit, which tastes best cold. Creamy white flesh contains large black seeds and is almostcustardlike; eat it with a spoon.Specialty nurseries offer several improved varieties, including exceptionally flavorful °El Bumpo°, °Honeyhart°, °Pierce°, °McPherson° (self-fruitful), and °Sabor° (best flavor) in California. In Hawaii, where cherimoyas grow best above 1,000 ft., °McPherson°(also sold as °Spain°) is the best choice.

Locate tree where you can enjoy fragrance. After 4 or 5 years, begin pruning yearly to produce fruiting wood.

To ensure fruit set, gatherfreshly opened flowers andplace in a small jar. Keep in acool place 12 to 24 hours, bywhich time the pollen will shed.Use a small paintbrush to pollinate freshly opened flowers.

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