Soursop: 'Annona muricata'
aka "Custard Apples" "Guanabana" or "Mang cau Xiem"
Soursop is an evergreen tree, native to Mexico, Cuba, Central America, the Caribbean, and northern South America. It loves high humidity and warm winters.
It is quite tropical and not nearly as cold tolerant as its cousin, the Sugar Apple (Annona squamosa). Leaves and branches suffer damage at 41°F, and temperatures below 35-37°F can be fatal. It is best suited to zone 11, unless you can provide greenhouse protection in the winter months.
Fruit is more or less oval or heart-shaped, and sometimes irregular, lopsided or curved, with a rough, prickly green peel. It can weigh as much as 10-15lbs. The skin becomes slightly yellowish-green before the mature fruit is soft to the touch.
The flesh of the Soursop is made up of an edible creamy white pulp, some fiber, and a core of indigestible black seeds. Pulp is commonly used for smoothies, fruit juice drinks, desserts, candies, sorbets, and ice cream flavorings.
The complex flavor of the Soursop is something like a combination of strawberries & pineapple, with sour citrus notes and an underlying creaminess like a coconut or banana.
Soursop fruit (Annona muricata) growing on the tree.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia, Taken by David Lytle, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license: no changes made
Cultivation / Propagation
Soursop is usually propagated by seeds, though some can be cultivated by cuttings and sometimes grafting in select circumstances. Germinates in 2-4 weeks. It thrives in rich, well-drained semi-dry soil, yet it tolerates acid and sandy soil ok. Plants should be a minimum 12" tall when planted out, and typically spaced 12-15' apart. Soursop grows rapidly to 15-18' tall in as little as 5-7yrs.
Soursop grown from seed bear fruit in 3 to 4 years, producing an average of 50 to 100 fruits per year. Typically, the fruit ripens on the tree and then cracks, especially during the rainy season. Not all fruit ripens at the same time. The Soursop will bloom & fruit more or less continuously, but the greatest "harvest" time in Florida is typically June to September.