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Annona squamosa (also called sugar-pineapple or sweetsop or in Tamil: சீதாபழம்) is a species of Annona native to the tropical Americas and widely grown in Colombia, El Salvador, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Philippines. 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 meters (20–26 ft) tall. The leaves are alternate, simple, oblong-lanceolate, 5–17 cm (2.0–6.7 in) long and 2–5 centimeters (0.79–2.0 in) broad. The flowers are produced in clusters of 3-4, each flower 1.5–3 cm (0.59–1.2 in) across, with three large petals and three minute ones, yellow-green spotted purple at the base.

The fruit is usually round, slightly pine cone-like, 6–10 cm (2.4–3.9 in) diameter and weighing 100–230 g (3.5–8.1 oz), with a scaly or lumpy skin. There are variations in shape and size. The fruit flesh is sweet, white to light yellow, and resembles and tastes like custard. The edible portion coats the seeds generously; a bit like the gooey portion of a tomato seed. Sugar-apple has a very distinct, sweet-smelling fragrance. The texture of the flesh that coats the seeds is a bit like the center of a very ripe guava (excluding the seeds). It is slightly grainy, a bit slippery, very sweet and very soft. The seeds are scattered through the fruit flesh; the seed coats are blackish-brown, 12–18 mm (0.47–0.71 in) long, and hard and shiny.

There are also new varieties being developed in Taiwan. The atemoya or “pineapple sugar-apple”, a hybrid between the Sugar Apple and the Cherimoya, is popular in Taiwan, although it was first developed in the USA in 1908. The fruit is similar in sweetness to the sugar apple but has a very different taste. Like the name suggests, it tastes like pineapple. The arrangement of seeds is in spaced rows, with the fruit’s flesh filling most of the fruit and making grooves for the seeds, instead of the flesh only occurring around the seeds. Unlike other Annona fruits, the Sugar Apple has segmented flesh.

Nomenclature

Sugar apple is a fruit of the tree Annona squamosa. It is sweet in taste due to higher fructose and reducing sugar content. Different cultures have many names for the species. In English, the fruit is most widely known as a sugar apple or sweetsop as well as a custard apple, especially in India and Australia (in the latter, a custard apple also refers to Annona reticulata, another closely related species). In Latin America, regional names include anón, anón de azucar, anona blanca, fruta do conde, cachiman, saramuyo, grenadilla (little grenade) and many others. In India it is known as ata, aarticum, shareefa, sitaphal, seethaphal or seetha pazham (सीता फळ சீதாப்பழம் literally meaning “sita fruit” as the fruit has too many seeds and monkeys will not eat them, and in Indonesia, srimatikiya or mostly people call it srikaya. The Taiwanese call it sakya (Chinese: 釋迦; pinyin: shìjiā; Taiwanese: sek-khia, sek-kia) because one cultivar resembles the top part of Sakyamuni’s (釋迦牟尼) head. Its name in Burmese is aajaa thee. In Indonesia, it is called srikaya. 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 mãng cầu ta or na. In Brazil, it is called fruta do conde, fruta-pinha, pinha, araticum or ata. In the Middle East region, it is called قشطة (qishta / ishta / ashta), the English translation being “custard”. In Kerala, it is called aathachakka. In Hong Kong, it is called “foreign lychee” (番鬼荔枝). In Mali, Africa, it is called hairico. In Malaysia, it is called “buah nona”.

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, such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Taiwan; 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 °C (77 °F) to 41 °C (106 °F), and mean winter temperatures above 15 °C (59 °F). It is sensitive to cold and frost, being defoliated below 10 °C (50 °F) and killed by temperatures of a couple of degrees below freezing. It is only moderately drought-tolerant, requiring rainfall above 700 mm, and will not produce fruit well during droughts.

It is quite a prolific bearer, and it 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. Natural pollinators include beetles (coleoptera) of the families Nitidulidae, Staphylinidae, Chrysomelidae, Curculionidae and Scarabeidae.

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. A Filipino company 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.[citation needed] The seeds are also ground and applied to hair to get rid of lice; however, it must be kept away from the eyes as it is highly irritant and can cause blindness.[citation needed] Heat-extracted oil from the seeds has been employed against agricultural pests. Studies have shown the ether extract of the seeds to have no residual toxicity after 2 days. High concentrations are potent for 2 days and weaken steadily, all activity being lost after 8 days.

In Mexico, the leaves are rubbed on floors and put in hen’s nests to repel lice.[1]

Chemical constituents

The diterpenoid alkaloid atisine is the main component of the root. Others include atidine, histisine, hetisine, hetidine, heterophyllisine, heterophylline, heterlophylline, isoatisine, dihydroatisine, hetisinone benzoyl heteratisine and citronella oil. In US patent 4689232, Bayer AG patented the extraction process and molecular identity of squamocin. This molecule is known as an annonaceous acetogenin. Bayer also patented its use as a biopesticide. Many others have found other acetogenins in extracts of the seeds, bark, and leaves.

 

Written on June 20th, 2012 , Fruits Tags:

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