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Branch with leaves and fruit
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Magnoliids
Order: Magnoliales
Family: Annonaceae
Genus: Annona
A. cherimola
Binomial name
Annona cherimola
Current range of native and naturalized A. cherimola

Annona pubescens Salisb.
Annona tripetala Aiton
Annona cherimolia Mill. orth. var.[1]

The cherimoya (Annona cherimola), also spelled chirimoya and called chirimuya by the Inca people, is a species of edible fruit-bearing plant in the genus Annona, from the family Annonaceae, which includes the closely related sweetsop and soursop. The plant has long been believed to be native to Ecuador and Peru,[3] with cultivation practised in the Andes and Central America,[3][4][5] although a recent hypothesis postulates Central America as the origin instead, because many of the plant's wild relatives occur in this area.[5][6]

Cherimoya is grown in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world including Central America, northern South America, Southern California, South Asia, Australia, the Mediterranean region, and North Africa.[3][7] American writer Mark Twain called the cherimoya "the most delicious fruit known to men".[8] The creamy texture of the flesh gives the fruit its secondary name, the custard apple.


The name is derived from the Quechua word chirimuya, which means "cold seeds". The plant grows at high altitudes, where the weather is colder, and the seeds will germinate at higher altitudes.[3] In Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela, the fruit is commonly known as chirimoya (spelled according to the rules of the Spanish language).


Annona cherimola is a fairly dense, fast-growing, woody,[9] briefly deciduous[10] but mostly evergreen, low-branched, spreading tree[9] or shrub,[10] 5 to 9 m (16 to 30 ft) tall.[9]

Mature branches are sappy and woody.[10] Young branches and twigs have a matting of short, fine, rust-colored hairs.[9][11] The leathery leaves are 5–25 centimetres (2.0–9.8 in) long[11][12] 3–10 centimetres (1.2–3.9 in) wide,[11] and mostly elliptic, pointed at the ends and rounded near the leaf stalk. When young, they are covered with soft, fine, tangled, rust-colored hairs. When mature, the leaves bear hairs only along the veins on the undersurface.[9] The tops are hairless and a dull medium green with paler veins,[12] the backs are velvety,[10] dull grey-green with raised pale green veins. New leaves are whitish below.[12]

Leaves are single and alternate, dark green, and slightly hairy on the top surface.[9] They attach to branches with stout 6–10 mm (0.24–0.39 in) long and densely hairy leaf stalks.[11]

Cherimoya trees bear very pale green,[12] fleshy flowers. They are 3 cm (1.2 in) long[10] with a very strong, fruity odor.[12] Each flower has three outer, greenish, fleshy, oblong, downy petals and three smaller, pinkish inner petals[9] with yellow or brown, finely matted hairs outside, whitish with purple spots[10] and many stamens on the inside.[11] Flowers appear on the branches opposite to the leaves, solitary or in pairs or groups of three,[9][11] on flower stalks that are covered densely with fine rust-colored hairs, 8–12 millimetres (0.31–0.47 in) long. Buds are 15–18 mm (0.59–0.71 in) long and 5–8 mm (0.20–0.31 in) wide at the base.[11] The pollen is shed as permanent tetrads.[13]


Ripe cherimoya fruits
Split cherimoya fruit

The edible cherimoya fruit is a large, green, conical[12] or heart-shaped compound fruit,[9] 10–20 cm (3.9–7.9 in) long,[9] with diameters of 5–10 cm (2.0–3.9 in),[11] and skin that gives the appearance of having overlapping scales or knobby warts. They ripen to brown with a fissured surface[12] in late winter and early spring;[10] they weigh on the average 150–500 g (5.3–17.6 oz), but extra-large specimens may weigh 2.7 kg (6.0 lb) or more.[9]

Cherimoya fruits are commercially classified according to degree of surface irregularity, as follows:[3] 'Lisa', almost smooth, difficult to discern areoles; 'Impresa', with "fingerprint" depressions; 'Umbonata', with rounded protrusions at the apex of each areole;[14] 'Mamilata' with fleshy, nipple-like protrusions; or 'Tuberculata', with conical protrusions having wart-like tips.

The flesh of the cherimoya contains numerous hard, inedible, black, bean-like, glossy seeds, 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) long[9] and about half as wide.[11] Cherimoya seeds are poisonous if crushed open.[3] Like other members of the family Annonaceae, the entire plant contains small amounts of neurotoxic acetogenins, such as annonacin,[3] which appear to be linked to atypical parkinsonism in Guadeloupe.[15] Moreover, an extract of the bark can induce paralysis if injected.[3]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Region of wild cherimoyas in Vilcabamba, Ecuador
A wild cherimoya plant in Vilcabamba, Ecuador

Widely cultivated now, A. cherimola is believed to have originated in the Andes of South America at altitudes of 700 to 2,400 m (2,300 to 7,900 ft),[9][5] although an alternative hypothesis postulates Central America as the origin, instead, because many of the plant's wild relatives occur in this area.[5] From there it was taken by Europeans to various parts of the tropics. Unlike other Annona species,[16] A. cherimola has not successfully naturalized in West Africa,[17] and Annona glabra is often misidentified as this species in Australasia.

Western South America: Ecuador, Peru[2][18]
Current (naturalized and native)
Caribbean: Florida, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico
Central America: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama
Northern South America: Guyana, Venezuela
Southern North America: Mexico
Western South America: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
Southern South America: Chile, Brazil
Palearctic: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, France, Italy, Spain, Madeira, Azores
Afrotropic: Eritrea, Somalia, Tanzania,
Indomalaya: India, Singapore, Thailand


A. cherimola is not native to Chile.[21] When it was introduced is unknown, but it happened likely in pre-Hispanic times.[21] Traditionally, it has been cultivated in the valleys and oases of the north, as far south as the valley of Aconcagua.[21]



Cherimoya sprouts emerging
Nitidulidae's beetle on cherimoya flower, Jundiaí, Brazil

The flowers of A. cherimola are hermaphroditic and have a mechanism to avoid self-pollination.[3] The short-lived flowers open as female, then progress to a later, male stage in a matter of hours. This requires a separate pollinator that not only can collect the pollen from flowers in the male stage, but also deposit it in flowers in the female stage. Studies of which insect(s) serve as the natural pollinator in the cherimoya's native region have been inconclusive; some form of beetle is suspected.

Quite often, the female flower is receptive in the early part of the first day, but pollen is not produced in the male stage until the late afternoon of the second day. Honey bees are not good pollinators of this plant, for example, because their bodies are too large to fit between the fleshy petals of the female flower. Female flowers have the petals only partially separated, and the petals separate widely when they become male flowers. So, the bees pick up pollen from the male flowers, but are unable to transfer this pollen to the female flowers. The small beetles which are suspected to pollinate cherimoya in its land of origin must therefore be much smaller than bees.

For fruit production outside the cherimoya's native region, cultivators must either rely upon the wind to spread pollen in dense orchards or else use hand pollination. Pollinating by hand requires a paint brush. Briefly, to increase fruit production, growers collect the pollen from the male plants with the brush, and then transfer it to the female flowers immediately or store it in the refrigerator overnight. Cherimoya pollen has a short life, but it can be extended with refrigeration.

Climate requirements[edit]

The evaluation of 20 locations in Loja Province, Ecuador, indicated certain growing preferences of wild cherimoya, including altitude between 1,500 and 2,000 m (4,900 and 6,600 ft), optimum annual temperature range between 18 and 20 °C (64 and 68 °F), annual precipitation between 800 and 1,000 mm (31 and 39 in), and soils with high sand content and slightly acidic properties with pH between 5.0 and 6.5.[14]

In Western horticulture, growers are often advised to grow cherimoya in full sun,[22] while the plant has been considered shade-tolerant in Japan.[23] In 2001, a study conducted by Kyoto University showed shading of 50–70% sunlight was adequate to obtain an optimal light environment.[24]



The cherimoya of the Granada-Málaga tropical coast in Spain is a fruit of the cultivar 'Fino de Jete' with the EU's protected designation of origin appellation.[25] 'Fino de Jete' fruits have skin type Impressa and are smooth or slightly concave at the edges. The fruit is round, oval, heart-shaped, or kidney-shaped. The seeds are enclosed in the carpels and so do not detach easily. The flavor balances intense sweetness with slight acidity and the soluble sugar content exceeds 17° Bx. This variety is prepared and packed in the geographical area because "it is a very delicate perishable fruit and its skin is very susceptible to browning caused by mechanical damage, such as rubbing, knocks, etc. The fruit must be handled with extreme care, from picking by hand in the field to packing in the warehouse, which must be carried out within 24 hours. Repacking or further handling is strictly forbidden."[25]

A cherimoya fruit, growing in a protective cover on a plantation in Bin Lang Village, Taiwan

Annona cherimola, preferring the cool Andean altitudes, readily hybridizes with other Annona species. A hybrid with A. squamosa called atemoya has received some attention in West Africa, Australia, Brazil, and Florida.[17]


The tree thrives throughout the tropics at altitudes of 1,300 to 2,600 m (4,300 to 8,500 ft). Though sensitive to frost, it must have periods of cool temperatures or the tree will gradually go dormant.[3] The indigenous inhabitants of the Andes say the cherimoya cannot tolerate snow.

In the Mediterranean region, it is cultivated mainly in southern Spain and Portugal, where it was introduced between 1751 and 1797,[3] after which it was carried to Italy, but now can also be found in several countries of Africa, the Middle East, and Oceania. It is cultivated throughout the Americas, including Hawaii since 1790 and California, where it was introduced in 1871.[3]


Large fruits which are uniformly green, without cracks or mostly browned skin, are best. The optimum temperature for storage is 8–12 °C (46–54 °F), depending on cultivar, ripeness stage, and duration, with an optimum relative humidity of 90–95%.[3] Unripe cherimoyas will ripen at room temperature, when they will yield to gentle pressure.[3] Exposure to ethylene (100 ppm for one to two days) accelerates ripening of mature green cherimoya and other Annona fruits; they can ripen in about five days if kept at 15 to 20 °C (59 to 68 °F). Ethylene removal can also be helpful in slowing the ripening of mature green fruits.

Nutrition and edibility[edit]

Raw cherimoya fruit is 79% water, 18% carbohydrate, 2% protein, and 1% fat (table). In a 100-gram reference amount providing 75 calories, cherimoya is a rich source (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of vitamin B6 and a moderate source (10–19% DV) of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and riboflavin (table).

Cherimoya, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy313 kJ (75 kcal)
17.71 g
Dietary fiber3 g
0.68 g
1.57 g
Thiamine (B1)
0.101 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.131 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.644 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.345 mg
Vitamin B6
0.257 mg
Folate (B9)
23 μg
Vitamin C
12.6 mg
Vitamin E
0.27 mg
10 mg
0.27 mg
17 mg
0.093 mg
26 mg
287 mg
7 mg
0.16 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water79.4 g

Percentages estimated using US recommendations for adults,[26] except for potassium, which is estimated based on expert recommendation from the National Academies.[27]

"The pineapple, the mangosteen, and the cherimoya", wrote the botanist Berthold Carl Seemann, "are considered the finest fruits in the world, and I have tasted them in those localities where they are supposed to attain their highest perfection – the pineapple in Guayaquil, the mangosteen in the Indian Archipelago, and the cherimoya on the slopes of the Andes, and if I were asked which would be the best fruit, I would choose without hesitation, cherimoya. Its taste, indeed, surpasses that of every other fruit, and Haenke was quite right when he called it the masterpiece of Nature."[28]

Fruits require storage at 50 °F (10 °C) to inhibit softening and maintain edibility.[3] Different varieties have different flavors, textures, and shapes.[3] The flavor of the flesh ranges from mellow sweet to tangy or acidic sweet, with variable suggestions of pineapple, banana, pear, papaya, strawberry or other berry, and apple, depending on the variety.[3] The ripened flesh is creamy white.[12] When ripe, the skin is green and gives slightly to pressure. Some characterize the fruit flavor as a blend of banana, pineapple, papaya, peach, and strawberry.[29] The fruit can be chilled and eaten with a spoon, which has earned it another nickname, the "ice cream fruit". In Chile and Peru, it is commonly used in ice creams and yogurt.[4]

When the fruit is ripe and still has the fresh, fully mature green-yellow skin color, the texture is like that of a soft ripe pear or papaya.[3] When the skin turns brown at room temperature, the fruit is no longer good for human consumption.[citation needed]


Chirimoya Cumbe is a well-known case involving collective marks in trademark law.[30][31] The World Intellectual Property Organization has defined these collective marks as “signs which distinguish the geographical origin, material, mode of manufacturing or other common characteristics of goods or services of different enterprises using the collective mark.” The owner of a collective mark are members of an association of such enterprises.

Cumbe is a valley in the Huarochiri province of Peru where the climatic conditions are favourable for growing chirimoya. The fruit produced in the Cumbe valley is considered of superior quality, with a large fruit size, soft skin, low seed index (number of seeds per 100 grams of fruit), and high nutrient value.

In 1997, Matildo Pérez, a peasant from a village community in the heights of Lima, decided to apply personally to the National Institute for the Defense of Competition and Intellectual Property of Peru (INDECOPI) for the registration of the trademark "Chirimoya Cumbe." The application was refused owing to the fact that no exclusive rights in generic names can be granted to a single person. Mr. Pérez appeared at INDECOPI again, this time with a delegation headed by the Deputy Mayor of Cumbe, to register the “Chirimoya Cumbe” as a trademark which would give the community in Lima exclusive rights with respect to the name “Cumbe”.

The INDECOPI officials explained that "Chirimoya Cumbe" is in fact an appellation of origin, not a trademark. To be more precise, the word “Cumbe” is an appellation of Peruvian origin, because the valley of Cumbe is a geographical area that gives certain distinctive properties to the Chirimoya grown there.

The people of Cumbe declined the proposition of appellation of origin: "It is said that with appellations of origin the State is the owner, and it is the State that authorizes use, and that is why we are saying no. We do not want the State to be the owner of the ‘Cumbe’ name."[citation needed]

After lengthy search for solutions, it was suggested that “Chirimoya Cumbe” should be registered as a “collective mark”, the owners of which would be the people of Cumbe and which would be used according to rules that they themselves would lay down.

In 2022, the name "Chirimoya Cumbe" has its own characteristic logo and is registered as a collective mark in the name of the village of Santo Toribio de Cumbe (in Class 31 of the International Classification).[31]


The Moche culture of Peru had a fascination with agriculture and represented fruits and vegetables in their art; cherimoyas were often depicted in their ceramics.[32]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Annona cherimolia". International Plant Names Index (IPNI). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Harvard University Herbaria & Libraries; Australian National Botanic Gardens.
  2. ^ a b "Annona cherimola". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Morton, JF (1987). "Cherimoya, in Fruits of Warm Climates, p 65-9". Center for New Crops and Plant Products, Purdue University Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture.
  4. ^ a b Popenoe H, King SR, León J, Kalinowski LS, Vietmeyer ND, et al. (1989). "Cherimoya". In National Research Council (ed.). Lost crops of the Incas: Little-known plants of the Andes with promise for worldwide cultivation. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. pp. 228–239. doi:10.17226/1398. ISBN 978-0-309-07461-2.
  5. ^ a b c d van Zonneveld M, Scheldeman X, Escribano P, Viruel MA, Van Damme P, Garcia W, Tapia C, Romero J, Sigueñas M, Hormaza JI (2012). "Mapping Genetic Diversity of Cherimoya (Annona cherimola Mill.): Application of Spatial Analysis for Conservation and Use of Plant Genetic Resources". PLoS ONE. 7 (1): e29845. Bibcode:2012PLoSO...729845V. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029845. PMC 3253804. PMID 22253801.
  6. ^ "Las chirimoyas, de América Central a Málaga". Diario Sur. September 8, 2017.
  7. ^ "Cherimoya in Germany" (PDF). Import Promotion Desk (IPD), Center for the Promotion of Imports. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  8. ^ Twain M (October 25, 1866). "Kau and Waiohinu in Kilauea, June, 1866". The Sacramento Daily Union.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Current name: Annona cherimola". AgroForestryTree Database. International Center For Research In Agroforestry. Archived from the original on 2011-09-30. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g EEB Greenhouse Staff, University of Connecticut (2008-04-10). "Annona cherimola Mill". Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Greenhouses. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i Wiggins, I. L.; Porter, D. M. (1971). Flora of the Galapágos Islands. Stanford University Press. pp. 521–522. Via Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) (2008-04-09). "Annona cherimola (PIER Species info)". PIER species lists. United States Geological Survey & United States Forest Service. Archived from the original on July 15, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h Flynn, Tim (2002-05-22). "Record Detail ANNONACEAE Annona cherimola Mill". Herbarium Database. National Tropical Botanical Garden. Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
  13. ^ Lora J, Testillano PS, Risueño MC, Hormaza JI, Herrero M (2009). "Pollen development in Annona cherimola Mill. (Annonaceae). Implications for the evolution of aggregated pollen". BMC Plant Biology. 9 (1): 129. doi:10.1186/1471-2229-9-129. ISSN 1471-2229. PMC 2774696. PMID 19874617.
  14. ^ a b Scheldeman, Xavier (2002). "Distribution and potential of cherimoya (Annona cherimoya Mill.) and highland papayas (Vasconcellea spp.) in Ecuador". University of Ghent.
  15. ^ Champy P, et al. (December 2005). "Quantification of acetogenins in Annona muricata linked to atypical parkinsonism in guadeloupe". Mov. Disord. 20 (12): 1629–3. doi:10.1002/mds.20632. PMID 16078200. S2CID 31508365.
  16. ^ "Annona glabra Linn. [family ANNONACEAE]". Global Plants. JSTOR. Retrieved 2019-09-05.
  17. ^ a b "Annona cherimola Mill. [family ANNONACEAE]". Global Plants. JSTOR. Retrieved 2019-09-05.
  18. ^ a b Bioversity International. "Result set for: Annonaceae Annona cherimola". New World Fruits Database. Retrieved 2008-04-17. [dead link]
  19. ^ Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). "PLANTS Profile, Annona cherimola Mill". The PLANTS Database. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
  20. ^ Australian Plant Name Index (APNI). "Search results". Integrated Botanical Information System (IBIS). Australian Plant Name Index (APNI). Retrieved 2008-04-17.
  21. ^ a b c Pardo B., Oriana; Pizarro, José Luis (2014). Chile: Plantas alimentarias Prehispánicas (in Spanish) (2015 ed.). Arica, Chile: Ediciones Parina. pp. 169–170. ISBN 9789569120022.
  22. ^ Grant, Amy (4 December 2022). "What Is A Cherimoya – Cherimoya Tree Info And Care Tips". Gardening Know How.
  23. ^ 小林, 里穂. "世界三大美果のひとつ【チェリモヤ】は天然のアイスクリームの味?". オリーブオイルをひとまわし. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  24. ^ Higuchi, Hirokazu (19 February 2001). "Shading Responses of Cherimoya Leaf Chlorophyll Content, Leaf Morphology, Shoot Growth, Leaf Gas Exchange and Fruit Production under Plastic House Conditions". Environmental Control in Biology. 39 (4): 255–265. doi:10.2525/ecb1963.39.255.
  26. ^ United States Food and Drug Administration (2024). "Daily Value on the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels". FDA. Archived from the original on 2024-03-27. Retrieved 2024-03-28.
  27. ^ National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Food and Nutrition Board; Committee to Review the Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium (2019). Oria, Maria; Harrison, Meghan; Stallings, Virginia A. (eds.). Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium. The National Academies Collection: Reports funded by National Institutes of Health. Washington, DC: National Academies Press (US). ISBN 978-0-309-48834-1. PMID 30844154. Archived from the original on 2024-05-09. Retrieved 2024-06-21.
  28. ^ Popenoe, Wilson (1945). "The Underdeveloped Field of Tropical Fruits". In Wilson, C.M. (ed.). New Crops for the New World. New York: The MacMillan Co. p. 17.
  29. ^ "Descriptors for cherimoya (Annona cherimola Mill.)" (PDF). Bioversity International. Bioversity International and CHERLA. 2008. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  30. ^ lawcirca (2020-07-19). "Collective Marks under the Trademark Act - Law Circa". Retrieved 2023-04-12.
  31. ^ a b "Name Matters". www.wipo.int. Retrieved 2023-04-12. This article incorporates text from this source, which is available under the CC BY 4.0 license.
  32. ^ Berrin, Katherine & Larco Museum. The Spirit of Ancient Peru: Treasures from the Museo Arqueológico Rafael Larco Herrera. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1997.

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