May is usually a time of great anticipation in the world of tropical fruit, with peak mango season just around the corner. It’s also a time that leaves some very deserving fruits in the corner and not getting the attention they deserve! The Annonaceae family is one that sometimes is overlooked. The family, containing the genus Annona is widespread among the tropical areas of Africa and the Americas. Paleoethnobotanical investigation has revealed evidence of cultivation of Annonas in areas of Mexico as early as 1000 BC. Probably the most well-known of the species is Annona muricata (Soursop, Guanabana, or Graviola). Other members of the genus are A. squamosa (Sugar Apple, Sweetsop) and A. reticulata (Custard Apple). We have an extensive collection of Annonas here at the park that warrant exploration.
Annonas are generally medium size, attractive trees producing fruit in the ½ pound to 5 pound range depending on species. The seeds of Annona species should not be consumed as they contain a toxin that can accumulate in the body.
The Soursop is particularly popular due to its tart-sweet pineapple/citrus flavor and purported health benefits. The most widespread use of the fruit is in smoothies, shakes and batidos. Frozen pulp of Soursop can be found in many supermarkets and can be used to make the simple, heavenly concoction known as Batido de Guanabana, or Soursop Milkshake.