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Wild Custard Apple | A Delicious and Savory Treat

Wild Custard Apple | A Delicious and Savory Treat

By Ton Rulkens, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21958226

 

Annona Chrysophylla (Annona Senegalensis), also known as Wild Custard Apple or Wild Soursop, is a rambling, deciduous, tree originating from the tropics of West Africa, most notably, Senegal. The trees were introduced to the United States via Florida as a potential breeding partner for similar native plants. There is a dwarf variety of custard apple that only grows a few feet in height and has a semi bushy habit. It is said the smaller variety has a more unique but pleasing taste than its taller cousin. Wild Custard Apple trees can grow to a height of 15 to 20 feet if grown in a habit similar to the tropics of West Africa. Wild custard apples can be grown in USDA Hardiness zones: 9-10. The tree displays attractive blue- green leaves against its silvery bark. The lush and fragrant flowers are white with light yellow inner petals which in turn produce orange to yellow colored fruit that have the distinct scent of pineapple. The fruit produces white, edible pulp that has a taste similar to apricots and is typically consumed raw. In indigenous Africa, nearly every part of the tree is used. For example, unopened flower buds and leaves are used as flavorings and as a vegetable in various meals. The leaves are used as animal fodder and stuffing for mattresses. Cosmetics and medicines are also created to help treat and prevent many ailments. This tree’s versatility is astounding!

Wild custard apple trees prefer full sun. They grow best in well-draining, sandy, gravelly, but loamy soil with a ph. range of 5.5 to 7. Of note, the mature fruit can be misshapen and crack due to lack of complete pollination. It is recommended that hand pollination is best to improve quality and yield.  Mature fruit can be gathered and eaten January through March. Hardiness zone: 9-10 Seed collected from the fruit must be stored properly. They should be viable for 2 years. New plants can be grown from seeds if scarified to increase germination rates.

Wild custard apples will make a pleasurable addition to any edible landscape, forest or home gardens.

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