1) General Information:
- Location on Property: Garden I
- Scientific Name: Annona muricata
- Region of Origin: Unknown
- Type: Edible
- General History: Annona muricata (common Spanish name: guanábana) is a broadleaf, flowering, evergreen tree. It is native to the tropical regions of the Americas and is widely propagated. It is in the same genus, Annona, as cherimoya and is in the Annonaceae family. The fruit is usually called soursop due to its slightly acidic taste when ripe. The plant is grown for its 20–30 cm (7.9–11.8 in) long, prickly, green fruit, which can have a mass of up to 6.8 kg (15 lb), making it probably the second biggest annona after the junglesop.
2) Plant Uses:
- As Food: The flesh of the fruit consists of an edible, white pulp, some fiber, and a core of indigestible black seeds. The pulp is also used to make fruit nectar, smoothies, fruit juice drinks, as well as candies, sorbets, and ice cream flavorings. The fruit contains significant amounts of vitamin C, vitamin B1 and vitamin B2.
- As Medicine: Soursop is widely promoted (sometimes as “graviola”) as an alternative cancer treatment. There is, however, no medical evidence that it is effective.
- Other Uses: The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center lists cancer treatment as one of the “purported uses” of soursop. According to Cancer Research UK, “Many sites on the internet advertise and promote graviola capsules as a cancer cure, but none of them are supported by any reputable scientific cancer organisations” and “there is no evidence to show that graviola works as a cure for cancer” and consequently they do not support its use as a treatment for cancer. In the Virgin Islands, the fruit is placed as a bait in fish traps. When pulverized, the seeds are effective pesticides against head lice, southern army worms and pea aphids and petroleum ether and chloroform extracts are toxic to black carpet beetle larvae. The seed oil kills head lice. The bark of the tree has been used in tanning. The bark fiber is strong but, since fruiting trees are not expendable, is resorted to only in necessity. Bark, as well as seeds and roots, has been used as fish poison.
- Growing: The soursop is adapted to areas of high humidity and relatively warm winters; temperatures below 5 °C (41 °F) will cause damage to leaves and small branches, and temperatures below 3 °C (37 °F) can be fatal. It prefers lowland areas between the altitudes of 0 metres (0 ft) to 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) and cannot stand frost. Soursop trees have a naturally slow growth rate, but they grow significantly faster under cultivation. If provided with proper care and a suitable planting site, soursop trees will reach a mature height of 15 to 20 feet in roughly six years and will bear fruit in three to five.
- Best time to Harvest: The soursop tends to flower and fruit more or less continuously, but in every growing area there is a principal season of ripening. In Hawaii, the early crop occurs from January to April; midseason crop, June to August, with peak in July; and there is a late crop in October or November.
- Sunlight Requirements: Full to partial sun
- Soil Requirements: Annona muricata is tolerant of poor soil and best growth is achieved in deep, rich, well-drained, semi-drysoil, but the soursop tree can be and is commonly grown in acid and sandy soil, and in the porous, oolitic limestone of South Florida and the Bahama Islands.
- Propagation: The soursop is usually grown from seeds. They should be sown in flats or containers and kept moist and shaded. Germination takes from 15 to 30 days. Selected types can be reproduced by cuttings or by shield-budding.
- Difficulties with this plant: The compound annonacin, which is contained in the seeds of soursop, is a neurotoxin associated with neurodegenerative disease. Annonacin, an alkaloid found in soursop seeds as well as the flesh of the fruit, is a potent neurotoxin associated with neurodegenerative disease, and research has suggested a connection between consumption of soursop and atypical forms of Parkinson’s disease due to high concentrations of annonacin.
History of this Plant at Hedonisia: