ANNONA SQUAMOSA SUGAR APPLE
The most widely grown of all the species of Annona, the sugar apple, It has acquired various regional names: anon (Bolivia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Panama); anon de azucar, anon domestico, hanon, mocuyo (Colombia); anona blanca (Honduras, Guatemala, Dominican Republic); anona de castilla (El Salvador); ata, luna, meba, sharifa, sarifa, sitaphal, sita pandu, custard apple, scaly custard apple (India); bnah nona, nona, seri kaya (Malaya) manonah, noinah, pomme cannelle du Cap (Thailand); qu a na (Vietnam); mang cau ta (Cambodia); mak khbieb (Laos); fan-li-chi (China).
The sugar apple tree ranges from 10 to 20 ft (3-6 m) in height with open crown of irregular branches, and some-what zigzag twigs. Deciduous leaves, alternately arranged on short, hairy petioles, are lanceolate or oblong, blunt tipped, 2 to 6 in (5-15 cm) long and 3/4 to 2 in (2-5 cm) wide;.The 3 inner petals are merely tiny scales. The compound fruit is nearly round, ovoid, or conical; 2 1/3 to 4 in (6-10 cm) long; its thick rind composed of knobby segments, pale-green, gray-green, bluish-green, or, in one form, dull, deep-pink externally (nearly always with a bloom); separating when the fruit is ripe and revealing the mass of conically segmented, creamy-white, glistening, delightfully fragrant, juicy, sweet, delicious flesh. Many of the segments enclose a single oblong-cylindric, black or dark-brown seed about 1/2 in (1.25 cm) long. There may be a total of 20 to 38, or perhaps more, seeds in the average fruit. Some trees, however, bear seedless fruits.
The original home of the sugar apple is unknown. It is commonly cultivated in tropical South America, not often in Central America, very frequently in southern Mexico, the West Indies, Bahamas and Bermuda, and occasionally in southern Florida. In Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Barbados, and in dry regions of North Queensland, Australia, it has escaped from cultivation and is found wild in pastures, forests and along roadsides.
The Spaniards probably carried seeds from the New World to the Philippines and the Portuguese are assumed to have introduced the sugar apple to southern India before 1590. It was growing in Indonesia early in the 17 th century and has been widely adopted in southern China, Queensland, Australia, Polynesia, Hawaii, tropical Africa, Egypt and the lowlands of Palestine. Cultivation is most extensive in India where the tree is also very common as an escape and the fruit exceedingly popular and abundant in markets. The sugar apple is one of the most important fruits in the interior of Brazil and is conspicuous in the markets of Bahia.
The ripe sugar apple is usually broken open and the flesh segments enjoyed while the hard seeds are separated in the mouth and spat out. It is so luscious that it is well worth the trouble. In Malaya, the flesh is pressed through a sieve to eliminate the seeds and is then added to ice cream or blended with milk to make a cool beverage. It is never cooked.
The seeds are acrid and poisonous. Bark, leaves and seeds contain the alkaloid, anonaine. Six other aporphine alkaloids have been isolated from the leaves and stems: corydine, roemerine, norcorydine, norisocarydine, isocorydine and glaucine. Aporphine, norlaureline and dienone may be present also. Powdered seeds, also pounded dried fruits serve as fish poison and insecticides in India. A paste of the seed powder has been applied to the head to kill lice but must be kept away from the eyes as it is highly irritant and can cause blindness. If applied to the uterus, it induces abortion. Heat-extracted oil from the seeds has been employed against agricultural pests. Studies have shown the ether extract of the seeds to have no residual toxicity after 2 days. High concentrations are potent for 2 days and weaken steadily, all activity being lost after 8 days. In Mexico, the leaves are rubbed on floors and put in hen's nests to repel lice.
The seed kernels contain 14-49% of whitish or yellowish, non-drying oil with saponification index of 186.40. It has been proposed as a substitute for peanut oil in the manufacture of soap and can be detoxified by an alkali treatment and used for edible purposes. The leaves yield an excellent oil rich in terpenes and sesquiterpenes, mainly B-caryophyllene, which finds limited use in perfumes, giving a woody spicy accent.
Fiber extracted from the bark has been employed for cordage. The tree serves as host for lac-excreting insects.
Medicinal Uses: In India the crushed leaves are sniffed to overcome hysteria and fainting spells; they are also applied on ulcers and wounds and a leaf decoction is taken in cases of dysentery. Throughout tropical America, a decoction of the leaves alone or with those of other plants is imbibed either as an emmenagogue, febrifuge, tonic, cold remedy, digestive, or to clarify the urine. The leaf decoction is also employed in baths to alleviate rheumatic pain. The green fruit, very astringent, is employed against diarrhea in El Salvador. In India, the crushed ripe fruit, mixed with salt, is applied on tumors. The bark and roots are both highly astringent. The bark decoction is given as a tonic and to halt diarrhea. The root, because of its strong purgative action, is administered as a drastic treatment for dysentery and other ailments.