From the Archives
of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia, inc.
by J.J. Darley, Townsville
The Annona Diversifolia
The common name of Annona
diversifolia is ilama blanca, meaning "old lady fruit."
Popenoe considered the ilama blanca one of the finest of the Annonas.
The cherimoya, although commonly regarded as the best fruit from this
family, by contrast is more exacting in its environmental requirements.
The cherimoya, unless crossed with A.
producing the custard apple for instance, is a relatively shy bearer.
For these reasons there ought to be considerable interest in the ilama
Whereas the sugar apple (Annona squamosa) was known to
botanists since the 17th century, the ilamas were described only 75
years ago. Two probable reasons for this may be the great similarity
between the ilamas and the sugar apple and the confusion between the
ilama blanca and the ilama soncoya, known to botanists as Annona purpurea.
soncoya is easily differentiated from the blanca since its new
branchlets have a reddish appearance. The fruit of the soncoya is not
well-regarded and confusion between these two species has possibly been
detrimental to the blanca's reputation.
The blanca's growth
habit also leads to confusion with the sugar apple. One characteristic
of the ilamas are orbicular bracts found at the bases of the swollen
branchlets. However, similar bracts can be found on the sugar apple.
The fruit of the ilama blanca is similar in appearance to that of both
the cherimoya and the sugar apple. The fruit's flesh can be white or
Crossings of the Annona
squamosa, diversifolia, purpurea, glabra, montana, scleroderma
and many others, mostly native to Mexico, could be an interesting and
worthwhile pursuit. There are over 50 known varieties and possible
permutations for crossings are endless.
Seeds of the ilama blanca may have reached Australia. Has this species
taken root on our continent?
(from a talk by John Byatt)
Summary by J.J. Darley, Townsville
to Ilama Page