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Cherimoya (Annona cherimola)

Currently very interesting types of tropical fruits are being imported to Europe. I have succeeded in buying the fruit of the cherimoya and tasting it. It is not found in fruit shops but thanks to my own good taste, it will find its place there as well!

The Cherimoya are the most commonly used name for the fruit of the Annona cherimola which grows in the valleys of the Andes from Colombia to Peru at an altitude of 700–2400 m. It also endures lower temperatures and could therefore be widely cultivated in other warmer parts of the world – even to Israel and southern Spain. Within this species we know approximately 120 types.

The cherimoya has a green brownish bark and its surface is irregular as if someone has left his fingermarks on it. Green fruits can be stored at room temperature. The flesh of the fruit is fleshy, has a creamy colour and tastes like banana and/or pineapple. Inside the fruit are 10–20 red seeds as big as beans. The fruit is mainly eaten raw.

You can plant the seed in your own house or in a green house. The germination process differs, but usually lasts around a week or three. The most favourable germination temperature is around 27 °C. Young plants are of a rosy colour, but rapidly changes to a dark green colour with hairy oval formed leaves that are 10–15 cm long with long leaves at the back of it.

In the winter the plant looses its leaves and when it is damaged it smells quite unusual. New branches grow where the leaves had fallen off. All types of annona demands a lot of light and a special way to hibernate – this a rather a point of discussion between growers! Personally I put the annona in a space with a temperature of 10–15 ºC to hibernate. During the winter one will have to watch the growing process of separate plant examples at room temperature, to see which one of these will bloom first.

The annona blooms three to five times per year. Before blooming, the annona seems withered and looses nearly all its leaves. The flower is yellow brownish of colour and it blooms where the leaves fell off or blooms with the coming of the new leaves. For pollination two plants are needed and the ripening of the fruits takes around 5–7 months.

Do not be disturbed by the top of the plant that always looks withered. A shorter dry period will not be bad for the plant, but it needs water during the winter as well. If you are lucky enough, you might also able to buy one of the following species:

Annona squamosa – peel formed annona which have peel formed fruit like the pineapple. These are also called sugar apples and the fruits are yellow greenish.

Annona muricata – this annona has the most tropical fruits growing on the bark of the plant and are huge (1,5–5 kg) – it has conical, bent pricks of around 0,5 cm long. It is green. The so-called Corosol tea is made from the leaves of this plant

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Wednesday 3rd November 2010 13:15 | print | Exotic plants

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