Cherimoya - Annona cherimola Miller
Fig. 1 

Annona cherimola (fruit)
Fig. 2
Annona cherimola (fruit)

Fruit sliced in half
Fig. 3

Inside of a cherimoya
Fig. 4

Cherimoya ready to eat
Fig. 5
Cherimoya ready to eat

Annona cherimola (leaves)
Fig. 6 
Annona cherimola (leaves)

Flower female
Fig. 7 
Flower female

Flower habit
Fig. 8 
Flower habit

Fig. 9

Fig. 10

Ejemplar de Annona cherimola, en el Jardín Botánico de la ciudad de La Plata
Fig. 11

Sprouts emerging from cherimoya seeds, from a supermarket fruit in North Carolina
Fig. 12
Sprouts emerging from cherimoya seeds, from a supermarket fruit in North Carolina

Seedling cherimoyas; these were sprouted from seeds taken from a supermarket fruit in about 3 weeks
Fig. 13
Seedling cherimoyas; these were sprouted from seeds taken from a supermarket fruit in about 3 weeks

Several seeds from a cherimoya, with a United States penny at left, for comparison
Fig. 14
Several seeds from a cherimoya, with a United States penny at left, for comparison

Seed, longititunal section
Fig. 15
Seed, longititunal section

Fig. 16

Cherimoya. Bought one, but it's too green to eat until it ripens
Fig. 17
"Cherimoya. Bought one, but it's too green to eat until it ripens."

Scientific name
Annona cherimola Miller
Common names
Chirimoya, cherimolia, chirimolla, cherimolier, cherimoyer. In Venezuela, it is called chirimorrinon; in Brazil, graveola, graviola, or grabiola; and in Mexico, pox or poox; in Belize, tukib; in El Salvador it is sometimes known as anona poshte; and elsewhere merely as anona, or anona blanca. In France, it is anone; in Haiti, cachiman la Chine. Indian names in Guatemala include pac, pap, tsummy and tzumux 1
Annona pubescens Salisb; Annona tripetala Aiton
Ilama (Annona diversifolia), Pond Apple (A. glabra), Manrito (A. jahnii). Mountain Soursop (A. montana), Soursop (A. muricata), Soncoya (A. purpurea), Bullock's Heart (A. reticulata), Sugar Apple (Annona squamosa), Atemoya (A. cherimola X A. squamosa) 1
Believed indigenous to the interandean valleys of Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia
16 to 30 ft (5 to 9 m)
Dense spreading crown
Pruning requirement
Train to 2 scaffold branches; severe pruning (2/3 of new growth) to aid in picking; shoots that are approximately 60 degrees from trunk are normally saved 7
Briefly deciduous, just before spring flowering; alternate, ovate to elliptical; 1.5-3.5 in. (3.8-9 cm) by 3-6 in. (7.6-15 cm) ; slightly hairy upper surface
Dichogamous flowering habit; borne solitary or groups of 2 or 3; pendulous; three fleshy petals; green to brown exterior, white interior; 1-2 in. (2.5-5 cm) long 2
Texture of a soft, non-gritty pear; delicate fruit flavor with little acidity; brown hard glossy seeds
October to May
USDA Nutrient Content pdf
Light requirement
Soil tolerances
Prefers rich, loamy, well drained soil with uniform moisture 4
PH preference
Drought tolerance
Drought tolerant and does not tolerate standing water
Aerosol salt tolerance
Need protection from constant ocean winds which may damage them and interfere with pollination and fruit set 8
Cold tolerance
27°F (-2.8°C)
Plant spacing
20-25 ft (3-4.5 m)
Invasive potential *
None reported
Pest resistance
See Annona Pest Page
Known hazard
The seeds, leaves, and limbs contain poisonous alkaloids that have been used to kill lice 2

Reading Material

Cherimoya from the University of California Cooperative Extension
Cherimoya from Julia Morton's book Fruits of Warm Climates
Cherimoya from Hawaii University Extension
Cherimoya from the California Rare Fruit Growers
The Cherimoya from W. Popenoe's book Manual of Tropical and Subtropical Fruits


Annona cherimola Miller, the cherimoya, is thought to originate from cold but frost-free valleys of the Andes (southern Ecuador and northern Peru) at an altitude of between 700 and 2400 m. 3
The name Cherimoya originates from the Quechua word chirimuya, which means “cold seeds,” because the plant grows at high altitudes and the seeds will germinate at higher altitudes. 1
There are an estimated 2200 species of Annonaceae in the world. These include numerous fruit-trees, especially of the genera Annona and Rollinia; the majority of Annona species and all the Rollinia species originate from the New World. 3

The tree is erect but low branched and somewhat shrubby or spreading; ranging from 16 to 30 ft (5 to 9 m) in height; and its young branchlets are rusty-hairy. The leaves are briefly deciduous (just before spring flowering), alternate, 2-ranked, with minutely hairy petioles 1/4 to 1/2 in. (6 to 12.5 mm) long; ovate to elliptic or ovate-lanceolate, short blunt-pointed at the apex; slightly hairy on the upper surface, velvety on the underside; 3 to 6 in. (7.5-15 cm) long, 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 in. (3.8-8.9 cm) wide. 1

Fragrant flowers, solitary or in groups of 2 or 3, on short, hairy stalks along the branches, have 3 outer, greenish, fleshy, oblong, downy petals to 1 1/4 in. (3 cm) long and 3 smaller, pinkish inner petals. 1

Flower morphology - longitudinal section 5

Fruit is formed by the fusion or partial fusion of the carpels resulting in a more or less bumpy fruit with many seeds. Cherimoyas ripen in 5 to 8 months after pollination. 2
The skin, thin or thick, may be smooth with fingerprint like markings or covered with conical or rounded protuberances. The fruit is easily broken or cut open, exposing the snow-white, juicy flesh, of pleasing aroma and delicious, subacid flavor; and containing numerous hard, brown or black, beanlike, glossy seeds, 1/2 to 3/4 in (1.25 to 2 cm) long. The fruit turns a pale green or creamy yellow color as they reach maturity. They should be picked when still firm and allowed to soften at room temperature. Ripe fruit will give to soft pressure. 1

Skin types
Mammillate - forma mamillata (bumpy); Umbonate - (the fruit is oblong-conical, with the base somewhat umbilicate and the surface studded with protuberances, small lumps, each of which corresponds to a component carpel); Impressa (smooth or slightly Indented; finger printed);  Tuberculate -forma tuberculata (the fruit is heart-shaped and has wart-like tubercles near the apex of each areole).  9

Mr. Har Mahdeem, popular horticultural circuit speaker and authority on Annonaceae, did not recommend growing this annona because our climate is too humid.  He recommends only the ‘Fina de Jete' from Spain as it produces reasonably well.  The leaf is fuzzy and round as against the long and pointy leaf of the custard-apple.

Harvesting is done by hand while the fruit is still firm on the tree. 7

The annona family exhibits a protogynous dichogamous flowering habit, that is, complete flowers in which the stigma is receptive before the pollen is ready to shed from the anthers. This condition is very important in cherimoya since the configuration of its flowers is not conducive to pollination by natural means. Therefore, pollination is done by hand: pollen is usually collected in the late afternoon or evening, stored in a cool place, and applied to the mature stigmas which are usually receptive in the morning. 2

Artificial pollination of sugar apple and atemoya from AgriFoodGateway pdf
Flowering Behavior, Pollination and Fruit Set from the University of Florida
Hand Pollination of the Custard Apple from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia

Although seedlings have a good probability of producing acceptable fruit, trees are normally grafted or budded on seedling rootstock to ensure reliable results. Grafting is done in the spring at or before leaf drop. Scion wood should be collected just before leaf drop. Plants also can be rooted from cuttings, although it is somewhat difficult. Seed has good viability for 2 to 3 years if stored properly. 7
For stock-plants on which to bud or graft the cherimoya in Florida A. squamosa has proved to be a good stock when a dwarf tree is desired; A. glabra tends to outgrow the cion. 9

Shaping the young trees is important to fruit production. Limbs need to be able to support the heavy fruits, which can weigh more than 2 pounds. Usually two or three lower limbs that angle upward at about 60 degrees from the trunk are saved. The style adopted is called the open goblet. Prune during the rest period when leaves begin to fall shortly after harvest is completed. Tip rapidly growing shoots to encourage flowering. 4
Young trees "harp," forming opposite branches as a natural espalier. These can be trained against a surface, or pruned off to form a regular free-standing trunk. 8

Cherimoya usually requires extra potassium for good production, up to 10 pounds per year for mature trees. 4
Cherimoyas respond to fertilizer applications generally provided every 3 months with a balanced fertilizer such as 8-8-8. Yellow leaves may not indicate a need for fertilizer but may be a response to cold temperatures or to the soil being too dry or wet. 7

The trees are watered except during the winter when they must be allowed to go dormant-ideally for 4 months. When the first leafbuds appear, irrigation is resumed. With bearing trees, watering is discontinued as soon as the fruits are full-grown. 6

Ants are a problem since they promote mealy bugs on the fruit. Ants are most easily controlled by limiting access from the ground by placing a mechanical or acceptable chemical barrier on the trunk of the tree. 7

Annona Pest Page

Cherimoyas are susceptible to Armillaria (Oak root fungus) and Verticillium sp. and should not be planted in old vegetable gardens, near tomatoes, eggplant or asters. 6

Food Uses
The white flesh of the ripe cherimoya is sweet, juicy and very fragrant. It is most commonly eaten out of-hand or scooped with a spoon from the cut open fruit. In Mexico, sometimes people add a few drops of lime juice. Occasionally it is seeded and added to fruit salads or used for making sherbet or ice cream. Colombians strain out the juice, add a slice of lemon and dilute with ice-water to make a refreshing soft drink. 6

Medicinal Uses **
In Mexico, rural people toast, peel and pulverize 1 or 2 seeds and take the powder with water or milk as a potent emetic and cathartic. Mixed with grease, the powder is applied on parasitic skin disorders. A decoction of the skin of the fruit is taken to relieve pneumonia. 6

Other Uses
In Jamaica, the dried flowers have been used as flavoring for snuff. 1
The fruit is fermented to produce an alcoholic beverage. 6

Annona squamosa resembles the cherimoya in texture and flavor and, since it is the more widely adaptable to humid conditions, it is the most widely planted in the more tropical parts of the world. 2
William F. Whitman, in a letter to the editor of the California Rare Fruit Growers, also explains "...the failure to grow cherimoyas in Florida is climate. Because of our hot, humid weather, cherimoyas grow very poorly and they fruit at all it is only the size of a small lemon and unfit to eat."

Blindness can result from the juice of the crushed seeds coming in contact with the eyes. The seeds contain several alkaloids: caffeine, ( + )-reticuline, (-)-anonaine, liriodenine, and lanuginosine. Human ingestion of 0.15 g of the dark-yellow resin isolated from the seeds produces symptoms resembling the effects of atropine.
The twigs possess the same alkaloids as the seeds plus michelalbine. 8 alkaloids have been reported in the leaves: ( + )-isoboldine, (-)-stepholidine, ( + )-corytuberine, ( + ) nornantenine, ( + )-reticuline, (-)-anonaine, liriodenine, and lanuginosine. 6

Other members of the family that are grown for their fruit are:
Soursop (Annona muricata)
Sugar apple (Annona squamosa)
Ilama (Annona diversifolia)
Custard Apple (Annona reticulata)
Atemoya (Annona cherimola x A. squamosa)
Biriba (Rollinia mucosa, Annona mucosa)
Poshte (Annona scleroderma)

Further Reading
Annona cherimola Mill from
Cherimoya from the Twelve Fruits Project by the University of Hawaii at Manoa
Cherimoya Botanical Art

List of Growers and Vendors

1 Morton, J. "Cherimoya". Fruits of warm climates. p. 65-69. 1987. Web. 28 Aug. 2014.
2 Vieth, Robert. "Cherimoya". University of California Cooperative Extension, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ventura County. N.d. Web. 4 Jan. 2014.
3 Bermejo, Hernandez J.e. and Leon, J. "Custard Apples." Neglected crops: 1492 from a different perspective. 85-93 by Mahdeem, H.. (FAO Plant Production and Protection Series, no.26). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, 1994.  Web. 26 Dec. 2015.
4 Love, Ken, Bowen, Richard and Fleming, Kent . "Cherimoya." Twelve Fruits With Potential Value-Added and Culinary Uses. P. 3-5.  University of Hawai‘i at Ma¯noa. College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. 2007. Web. 29 Dec. 2015.
RoRo. "Flower morphology - longitudinal section chirimoya, Annona'. 2013. Under (CC0 1.0 Universal). Web. 30 Dec. 2015.
6 Orwa C, A Mutua, Kindt R , Jamnadass R, S Anthony. "Annona cherimola Mill." Agroforestree Database:a tree reference and selection guide version 4.0. 2009. Web. 30 Dec. 2015.
7 Vieth, Robert. "Cherimoya". University of California Cooperative Extension, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ventura County. N.d. Web. 4 Jan. 2014.
8 "Cherimoya". Web. 2014.
9 Popenoe, Wilson. "The Cherimoya". Manual of Tropical and Subtropical fruits. 1920. Web. 28 Dec. 2014.


Fig. 1 Jaitt, Oscar. Cherimoya, Annona cherimola. N.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.
Fig. 2 Starr, Forest and Kim. Annona cherimola (fruit). 2007. Maui, Enchanting Floral Gardens of Kula. Web. 30 Dec. 2015.
Fig. 3 Annona cherimola. N.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.
Fig. 4 Mr.TinDC. "Inside of a cherimoya." 2015. Under (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). Web. 30 Dec. 2015.
Fig. 5 Starr, Forest and Kim. Fruit ready to eat at Enchanting Floral Gardens of Kula, Maui. 2012. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.
Fig. 6 Starr, Forest and Kim. Annona cherimola (leaves). 2007. Maui, Enchanting Floral Gardens of Kula. Web. 30 Dec. 2015.
Fig. 7,8 Starr, Forest and Kim. Flowers at Ulupalakua Ranch, Maui. 2008. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.
Fig.9,10 Kwan. Annona cherimola. 2013. Web. 3 Jan. 2015.
Fig. 11 Aibdescalzo. Ejemplar de Annona cherimola, en el Jardín Botánico de la ciudad de La Plata. 2009. Under GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2. Web. 30 Dec. 2015.
Fig. 12 Davidals. Sprouts emerging from cherimoya seeds, from a supermarket fruit in North Carolina. 2010. Under (CC BY-SA 3.0). Web. 30 Dec. 2015.
Fig. 13 David. "Seedling cherimoyas; these were sprouted from seeds taken from a supermarket fruit in about 3 weeks." 2010. Under (CC BY 2.0). Web. 30 Dec. 2015.
Fig. 14 Badagnani. Several seeds from a cherimoya, with a United States penny at left, for comparison. 2008. Under GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2. Web. 30 Dec. 2015.
Fig. 15,16 Philmarin. Annona cherimola (chirimoya seed ). 2013. Under (CC BY-SA 3.0). Web. 30 Dec. 2015.
Fig. 17 Couse-Baker, Robert.  Cherimoya. Bought one, but it's too green to eat until it ripens. 2013. Under (CC BY 2.0). Web. 30 Dec. 2015.

UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas
** Information provided is not intended to be used as a guide for treatment of medical conditions.

Published 29 Dec. 2014 LR. Updated 9 Jan. 2016 LR
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