Ilama - Annona diversifolia Safford
Annona diversifolia fruit
Fig. 1 

Fig. 2 

Diversifolia means diverse leaves, different shapes
Fig. 3 
Diversifolia means diverse leaves, different shapes

Fig. 4 

Scientific name
Annona diversifolia Safford
An-nona di-ver-si-fo-lia
Common names
English: Ilama; Mexico: llama, izlama, illamatzopotl (translated as zapote de las viejas, or "old woman's sapote"), hilama, and papuasa; Guatemala: blanca or papauce; in El Salvador, anona blanca 1
Annona Macroprophyllata Donn. Sm.
Sugar apple (Annona squamosa), cherimoya (A. cherimola), soursop (A. muricata), custard apple (A. reticulata), pond apple (A. glabra), atemoya (Annona cherimola x A. squamosa)
Indigenous in the mountains and foothills of southwestern Mexico, Guatemala, and Salvador
25 ft (7.5 m)
Plant habit
Erect or spreading
Often branching from the ground; aromatic, pale brownish-gray, furrowed bark 1
Deciduous; glossy, thin, elliptic to obovate or oblanceolate; 2-6 in (5-15 cm) long 1
Solitary, long stalked, maroon
Conical, heart-shaped or ovoid globose; 6in. (15 cm), weighing as much as 2 pounds
July to December
Light requirement
Young trees need partial shade; older trees prefer full sun
Soil tolerances
Performs better on deep sand than on oolitic limestone 1
Cold tolerance
30-32°F (-1-0°C) Most cold sensitive of the Annonas
Invasive potential *
None reported
Pest resistance
Not as susceptible to the chalcid fly as are its more popular relatives in Florida 1
Known hazard
None known

Reading Material

The Annona diversifolia from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia
Ilama from Julia Morton's book Fruits of Warm Climates
The Ilama from W. Popenoe's book Manual of Tropical and Subtropical Fruits


Indigenous in the mountains and foothills of southwestern Mexico, Guatemala, and Salvador

The ilama may be termed the cherimoya of the lowlands. The cherimoya does not succeed in the tropics unless grown at elevations of 4000 to 6000 feet, where the climate is cool. The ilama, on the other hand, belongs to the lowlands, but is strikingly similar in character to a good cherimoya. It is a valuable recruit and one which cannot be too strongly recommended for cultivation throughout the tropics. 5

A. diversifolia is distinguished from other species of Annona in that it has two classes of leaf: the usual obovate, glabrous leaves with a petiole; and leaves in the form of round, deciduous bracts without a petiole, which grow on the base of the small branches. The undersides of the leaves, small branches and fruit have a powdery, whitish appearance, which is more noticeable in the white-fleshed varieties. 2

The flowers have three outer petals that are 2 to 5 cm long, and three minute inner petals; the color is a varietal characteristic and ranges from pink to purplish red. 2

Generally, the fruit is studded with more or less pronounced, triangular protuberances, though fruits on the same tree may vary from rough to fairly smooth. The rind, pale-green to deep-pink or purplish, is coated with a dense, velvety gray-white bloom. It is about 1/4 in (6 mm) thick, leathery, fairly soft and granular. In green types, the flesh is white and sweet; in the pink types, it is pink-tinged near the rind and around the seeds, all-pink or even deep-rose, and tart in flavor. It is somewhat fibrous but smooth and custardy near the rind; varies from dryish to fairly juicy, and contains 25 to 80 hard, smooth, brown, cylindrical seeds, 3/4 in (2 cm) long, 3/8 in (1 cm) wide, each enclosed in a close-fitting membrane easily slipped off when split. 1

Fairchild, Rosendo Pérez, Guillermo and Gramajo have a thick-skinned, greyish green fruit with prominent round areoles and pink flesh. Rosendo Peréz and Gramajo have big fruit. (These cultivars have been bred for Florida.) 2

Traditionally, the fruits are not picked until they have begun to crack open, but they can be picked a little earlier and held up to 3 days to soften. They will not ripen if harvested too
early. 1

Ilama seeds, taken from ripe fruits, remain dormant for several weeks or even months and the germination rate thereafter is low. Applications of gibberellic acid at 350 ppm greatly increases germination. Higher concentrations cause malformations in the seedlings. Whip-or cleft-grafting onto custard apple (A. reticulata) rootstocks has been successful. Seedlings begin to bear when 3 to 5 years old. 1

The Ilama is not as susceptible to the chalcid fly as are its more popular relatives in Florida. The fruit is very resistant and sometimes completely immune to attack from seed-boring insects. 2

Food Uses
The ilama fruit is either eaten on the half-shell or scooped out with a tool. The Ilama is usually chilled when served. It is sometimes served with a little cream and sugar to intensify the flavor, or with a drop of lime. 3

Mr. Har Mahdeem, popular horticultural circuit speaker and authority on Annonaceae says the best conditions to produce one of the best fruit in the annonacea family, the Ilama, requires hot and dry summer followed in late July-August by a rainy period. Conditions, he says, rarely seen in South Florida. He recommended, should we try to grow one, grafted varieties on pond apple rootstock: 'Guillermo', 'Fairchild', 'Genova Red', 'Genova White' and 'Pajapita'. On propagation, he recommended cleaning the seeds and storing them at room temperature, dry condition, for 9-10 months. The rate of success is very much increased.
Tip: Scratch the bark of a limb; if it is red, you will have a pink fleshed Ilama, if green, it will be a white variety. Also, if the new growth is red, it will be a pink fleshed variety.
Mr. Mahdeem says the fruit is not fully ripe until it cracks open on the tree. Left on a counter, it will reseal itself and that is how they are sold at market. 

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

Further Reading
Custard Apples from Neglected Crops: 1492 from a Different Perspective
Insect/Mite Management in Annona spp. from the University of Florida pdf 5 pages

List of Growers and Vendors


1 Morton, J. "Ilama". p. 83-85. Fruits of warm climates. 1987. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.
2 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.
3 "Annona diversifolia." Web. 3 Jan. 2015.
4 "Annona diversifolia." Web. 11 Mar. 2015.
5 Popenoe, Wilson. "The Ilama". 1920. Web. 28 Dec. 2014.


Fig. 1 I likE plants!. Ilama. 2009. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.
Fig. 2,3,4 Annona diversifolia. N.d. Web. 3 Jan. 2015.

UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas

Published 15 Dec. 2014 LR. Updated 12 Mar. 2015, 11 Jan. 2016 LR
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