TAKEN from writings by A.L. Pikanen

Annona genus comprises more than 50 species of trees and shrubs and are native to tropical America, which can be traced back to plantings developed by the pre-Inca people as far back as 2500 B.C.

Mark Twain said that the cherimoya is deliciousness itself"and Haenke called it "Masterpiece of Nature."The famous fruit expert and botanist ,Dr. Seemann, says,The pinapple, the mangosteen and cherimoyas are considered the finest fruits in the world, and I have tasted them in the places where they are said to be at their best and reach their highest perfection--the pinapple in Milagro (Ecuador), the cherimoya on the slopes of the Andes and the mangosteen in the Indian Archipelago."

Dr. Seemann's unhesitating choice of the three fruits would be the cherimoya.

The Cherimoya (Annona cherimola Mill.) native to Ecuador and Peru growing in the mountain valleys. It was introduced early into Mexico and Central America. The cherimoya grows best close to the equatorial line yet it grows at an altitude that is definitely cool in the valleys of the Andes

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The Cherimoya is a small spreading tree,rarely more than 25 or 30 feet in height. Technically it is called the "syncarplum" and begins to produce fruit at four to five years of age. The light-green leaves vary in size, reaching up to 10 inches in length. The upper surface of the leaves is slightly hairy while the lower surface is velvety. The inch-long fragrant flowers are produced in the axils of the leaves. The highly perfumed fruits vary in form but usually are heart-shaped, oval, conical or irregular. The light-green surface of the fruit varies in appearance from smooth to ridged depressions (termed "fingerprinted") to where the carpels terminate by an abrupt point. The subacid flesh is creamy white, soft,juicy and is arranged in petagonal or hexagonal form with many dark brown to black half inch seeds imbedded in ridged rows. It has a custard-like consistency, the flavor rich and aromatic, a blend of sweetness and mild acidity resembling a cross between that of banana and pineaple. "Melting"is the best word to describe the flesh of the cherimoya for it literally does "melt"in the mouth"an exquisite taste.

Cherimoya fruits reach a large size from four to six pounds, some even weigh up to 10 pounds or more. They are propagated by budding or grafting on strong seedlings of the same species. Hand pollinated fruits are found to be larger and less regular than those pollinated by natural means. Adult cherimoya trees can stand a mild frost, but the young trees must be protected. The soil should be loamy and rich for the best results, but the tree does not demand this and it can be propagated in various soils including clay. For a regular grove, either seedlings or budded trees may be planted, usually 20 to 30 feet apart. In Ecuador, the only planting method used is by seed while in Florida and California the cherimoya is propagated by grafting or budding with seedlings of the species.

There is quite a wide difference in the quantity of fruit produced by a single tree, some growing no more than a dozen or two, while others 50 or even 100 or more.

The true Cherimoya is the finest fruit of all the annona species and considered one of the most exquisite fruits of the world.