A global community of nature enthusiasts
photographing and learning about wildlife
The cherimoya, also spelled chirimoya, is the fruit of the species Annona cherimola, which generally is thought to be native to the Andes , although an alternative hypothesis proposes Central America as the origin of cherimoya because many of its crop wild relatives occur in this area. Today cherimoya is grown throughout South Asia, South and Central America, and Southern California. Cherimoya is a deciduous or semi-evergreen shrub or small tree reaching 7 m (22 feet) tall. The leaves are alternate, simple, oblong-lanceolate, 7–15 cm long and 6–10 cm broad. The flowers are produced in small clusters, each flower 2–3 cm across, with six petals, yellow-brown, often spotted purple at the base. The fruit is oval, often slightly oblate, 10–20 cm long and 7–10 cm diameter, with a smooth or slightly tuberculated skin. The fruit flesh is white and creamy, and has numerous dark brown seeds embedded in it. Mark Twain called the cherimoya "the most delicious fruit known to men." The fruit is fleshy and soft, sweet, white in color, with a sherbet-like texture, which gives it its secondary name, custard apple. Some characterize the flavor as a blend of banana, pineapple, papaya, peach, and strawberry. Others describe it as tasting like commercial bubblegum. Similar in size to a grapefruit, it has large, glossy, dark seeds that are easily removed. When ripe, the skin is green and gives slightly to pressure, similar to the avocado.