Annonaceae – The Cherimoya Family

Annona squamosa, Sugar-Apple

Sugar apple, Annona squamosa

Sugar-apple fruits are segmented, shaped almost like a hand grenade. They have a creamy white flesh surrounding numerous black seeds. The flavor of sugar-apple is variable from tree to tree, but the best have a melting sweet flavor.

Sugar-apple is a small tree that easily fits in tight spaces.

The seeds of sugar-apple have some potent toxins, so be sure to avoid eating them.

Sugar-apple is widely grown, all around the world, and has accumulated a tremendous number of local names in various tropical countries.


Here’s Melanie Perez from the excellent food-growing blog Our Tropical Soil with an introduction to  sugar-apple:






-Annona cherimola x Annona squamosa – Atemoya

Atemoya. This fruit is a cross between cheromya, Annona cherimola, and sugar-apple, Annona squamosa

Atemoya (at-uh-MOY-uh) is world-class fruit. The explosion of flavors of a good atemoya is hard to convey adequately in words, but the closest I can liken to is a combination of pineapple, mango, coconut and banana. It’s   quite spectacular.

Atemoya is a hybrid of two other fruits: cherimoya and sugar-apple. Cherimoya is an outstanding fruit that’s native to the mountainous areas of South American. Those highland tropical areas that cherimoya calls home have been called the land of eternal spring, with lower temperature and humidity lower than in the lowland tropics. Consequently, cherimoya can have problems with Florida’s steamy summers. Sugar-apple, on the other hand, is native to the tropical lowlands of South America, so it thrives in our sauna weather. The cross between the two, atemoya, combines the outstanding fruit quality of cherimoya with sugar-apple’s love for Florida’s weather.

(In case you’re wondering about the name, “ata” is an old name for sugar apple in a Native American language of this tree’s home range. So the combination of “ata” and “cherimoya” is an “ata-moya,” with the spelling slightly changed.)

Atemoya trees grow to a height of 20 feet, but with pruning can be kept to eight to ten feet tall.

Atemoya can take a little frost, so it grows well in all of South Florida, and warmer areas of Central Florida. It’s also an outstanding greenhouse fruit tree, even for a cool greenhouse that gets to near-freezing temperatures in winter, or even slightly below freezing.


-Annona cherimola, cherimoya
-Annona reticulata, custard apple
-Annona diversifolia, ilama
-Annona glabra, pond apple
-Annona muricata, soursop, guanabana
-Asimina triloba (et al.), pawpaw
-Rollinia deliciosa, biriba
-Rollinia mucosa