This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(Quichua language of Peru, chirimuya, signifying cold seeds). (Annona Cherimola, Mill.). Figs. 903-905. An important table fruit of warm countries. See p. 293, Vol. I, for botanical description.
The cherimoya is considered by many to be the finest of the subtropical fruits, and that not only by the natives of the countries in which it grows, but also by Europeans. It is somewhat like the pomme-cannelle, or sweet-sop, but differs from it in having a pecuilar acidulous flavor most agreeable and grateful to the taste. For centuries the cherimoya has been cultivated and several distinct varieties have resulted. One of these has smooth fruit devoid of protuberances, which has been confused with the inferior fruits of both Annona glabra and A. reticulata. The last two species, however, are easily distinguished by their leaves and flowers; Annona glabra, commonly known as the alligator apple or mangrove annona, having glossy laurel-like leaves and globose flowers with 6 ovate petals, and A. reticulata having long narrow glabrate leaves devoid of the velvety lining which characterizes those of the cherimoya. Both of these species, moreover, are essentially tropical, while the cherimoya is subtropical, growing in tropical countries only at considerable elevations, where the climate is cool and the soil well drained.
Fig. 903. Cherimoya-smooth form. (X 1/4)
The origin of the cherimoya has been much discussed. De Candolle, however, is in all probability correct in attributing it to the mountains of Ecuador and Peru. The common name which it bears, even in Mexico, is of Quichua origin, as explained above; and terracotta vases modeled from cherimoya fruits have been dug up repeatedly from prehistoric graves in Peru. It was introduced at a very early date into Central America and Mexico and into Jamaica in 1786 by Hinton East. It is now of spontaneous growth in limited areas both in Central America and the mountains of Jamaica. In Madeira, the cherimoya has taken the place of the grape-vine on many of the estates on the warm southern slopes of the island. Here the cultivation is systematic. The two-year-old seedlings are budded or grafted. The trees are frequently trained on walls or on trellises, so that the fruit may hang in the shade while ripening, and manure is regularly supplied (see Annona). The result of careful selection is that there are varieties of fine flavor, comparatively few seeds, and great size, weighing from twelve to sixteen pounds.
According to W. Fawcett, ordinary fruits weighing from three to eight pounds, have been sold in the London market at $1.50; large ones at $2.50 and even $3. The cherimoya has been successfully introduced into southern California where it finds the most favorable conditions in the foot-hills near the coast.
Fig. 905. Flower of Cherimoya with two outer petals removed to show minute inner petals and essential parts; also an outer petal. (X1 1/2)
The cherimoya grows in the form of a small tree, usually about 15 or 20 feet high. The flowers are remarkably uniform, but vary somewhat in size. They are often solitary or in two's or three's, while those of the bullock's heart (Annana reticulata) and the sugar-apple (A. squamosa) are usually clustered. The leaves are always velvety on the lower surface. The following varieties, based upon the form of the fruit, are recognized:
(1) Finger-printed cherimoya (forma impressa), known in Costa Rica as "anona de dedos pintados." This form was the first to be figured (Feuillee, PI. med. Journ. Obs. 3: append. 24, pl. 17, 1725). The fruit, conoid or subglobose in shape, has a smooth surface covered with concave U-shaped areoles resembling finger-prints in soft wax or putty. It is one of the best varieties, with sweet juicy pulp of good flavor, and with relatively few seeds.
(2) Smooth cherimoya (forma laevis), called in South America "chirimoya lisa" and in the market of Mexico City, "anon." Fig. 903. It is this form which is so often mistaken for Annona glabra and A. reticulata on account of the general appearance of the fruit and the common name "anon," which is also applied to the fruit of the last-named species. This is one of the finest of all the cherimoyas.
(3) Tuberculate cherimoya (forma tuberculata). Fig. 904. One of the commonest forms, in which the fruit is heart-shaped and bears small wart-like tubercles near the rounded apex of each areole. To this group belongs the "golden russet" cherimoya grown in the orchard of C. P. Taft at Orange, California. It is the form most frequently found in the Peruvian markets and is represented in prehistoric pottery from the graves of that country.
(4) Mammillate cherimoya (forma mamillata), called in South America, "chirimoya de tetillas."
This is the form successfully estab-lished on the ranch of Charles F. O'Brien, in the mountains of Santa Monica, southern California. It is also the common form of the Nilgiri Hills of India, and is one of the best forms grown on the Island of Madeira.
(5) Umbonate cherimoya (forma umbonata),' called "chirimoya de puas" and "anona picuda" in Latin America. In this form the skin of the fruit is comparatively thick, the pulp more acid than in other forms, and the seeds more numerous. It has the flavor of pineapple and is one of the best for producing cooling drinks and sherbets. The fruit is oblong-conical in shape, with the base more or less umbilicate and the surface studded with protuberances, each of which corresponds to a component carpel. To this form should be referred the "Horton" cherimoya, grown in the vicinity of Pasadena, California.
Fig. 904. Cherimoya, tuberculate form. (X 1/3)
Very recently there has been received from Florida an interesting fruit borne by a hybrid, the result of pollinating the stigmas of a cherimoya with the pollen of Annona squamosa. The leaves of this plant are very broad, resembling those of A. Cherimola in shape, but glabrous like those of A. squamosa. The fruit resembles that of A. Cherimola in form, but with the protuberences very distinct and covered with a glaucous bloom like that of A. squamosa. The seeds are distinct from both species, larger than those of A. squamosa, and much darker colored than those of A. Cherimola; and the pulp is very juicy, with the fine slightly acidulous flavor of the cherimoya.
For the propagation and culture of cherimoyas, see Annona. W. E. Sapford.