Publication from IFAS Palm Beach County Cooperative Extension Service
Gene Joyner, Extension Agent (retired)

Annona Squamosa:  The Sugar Apple

The Sugar Apple Annona squamosa is a small deciduous tree that only reaches a height in Florida of about 20 to 25 feet. Native to Central America this grows best in warm frost free areas. The leaves are alternate, 6-8 inches long and thin, and the tree loses those leaves shortly after Christmas and is bare for about four to six weeks. Flowers appear with the leaves in the spring and the fruit ripens starting in mid to late summer through late fall.

Fruits are anywhere from 3 to 5 inches in diameter with a lumpy green skin and upon maturity the fruit has a bluish or white blush. Some varieties are developed that have a red blush or red skin which are much more attractive. At maturity fruits have a custard like white pulp with small black seeds and the sweet flesh is eaten fresh or used for milkshakes and ice creams. During wet summers often maturing fruit tends to split and this can be prevented by picking the fruits just prior to full maturity and ripening them off the tree.

Trees are easily started from seed and it takes one to two years for seedlings to start producing flowers. Many superior varieties are available and these are sold through nurseries as grafted or budded plants. Trees have few problems other than cold weather, but the fruit is attacked by annona seed borer and occasionally caterpillars might chew foliage.

Fruits, once mature, can be cleaned and the pulp frozen for many months for future use. If close to salt water, protect sugar apples from direct ocean spray since this may cause burning of the thin leaves. Some varieties to look for include Island Gem, Lincoln, Cuban, Brazilian and Purple.

Sugar apples make great container plants, too, so if you don't have much space try growing these in a 10 or 15 gallon tub, and they will still reward you with a number of delicious fruit.

Trees in the landscape should be fertilized every three to four months with a citrus or palm type fertilizer containing good levels of micro-nutrients. In highly alkaline soil deficiencies may develop that require nutritional sprays to correct.

In North America most sugar apples and other Annonas are eaten out of hand. Its a different story in  many other areas where Annonas are used in a wider variety of ways.  A coarse pulp can be made simply by removing the outer rind and seeds. The following is an easy puree. On the average 2 pounds of fruit will yield about 2 cups of puree.

Annona Puree
Allow the fruit to become soft and ripe. Remove the pulp from with in the peel or rind and tear it into small pieces. Try and remove most, if not all the seeds. Force the pulp through a potato ricer or food mill or you may squeeze it through several layers of cheesecloth.  The thick, juice pulp or puree can be used in ice cream, milkshakes and other recipes.

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Joyner, Gene. "The Annona squamosa: The Sugar Apple." IFAS Palm Beach County Cooperative Extension Service. Web. 23 Jan. 2016.

Published 23 Jan. 2016 LR
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