Annona reticulata
Common Name: custard apple 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Annonaceae
Native Range: Caribbean, Central America
Zone: 10 to 11
Height: 20.00 to 35.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 30.00 feet
Bloom Time: June
Bloom Description: Yellowish-green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Fragrant, Insignificant
Leaf: Fragrant, Evergreen
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Other: Winter Interest

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-11. This tree should only be planted outdoors in frost-free areas protected from cold winds. It is best grown in rich, evenly moist but well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerates average soils. At best it will survive temperatures that briefly dip to 26-28 degrees F. This tropical plant is not reliably winter hardy to most of southern Florida, but may be grown in the Florida keys and Puerto Rico. In St. Louis, it may be grown indoors in greenhouses, but is difficult to grow as a houseplant. In greenhouses, it typically flowers in summer followed by fruits in fall.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Annona reticulata, commonly called sugar apple, custard apple or bullock's heart, is a small, evergreen to deciduous, tropical tree that is native to the West Indies. Early on, it was brought to the mainland where it is now cultivated from southern Mexico through Central America to Peru and Brazil. It typically grows in an upright but sometimes irregular form to 20-35' tall, featuring slender, long-pointed, oblong-lanceolate to lanceolate green leaves (to 4-8" long). Leaves are malodorous when bruised. Leaves may drop in winter near the far northern edge of its growing range (e.g., southern Florida). Fragrant, yellowish-green flowers (to 1" long) bloom in spring in small pendant clusters. Flowers give way to reddish-yellow to brown fruits (to 5" long) which feature an edible creamy custard-like white flesh. Each fruit typically weighs 1-2 pounds. Each fruit is covered in polygonal plates. Thin fruit skin may be distinctly reticulated (net-veined), hence the specific epithet. Fruits vary in both size (heart-shaped to globular to irregular) and taste quality (juicy and sweet to hard and mediocre). This species is generally not cultivated for its fruits. Other genus members that are regularly cultivated for fruit include Annona cherimola (cherimoya), Annona squamosa (sweetsop) and Annona muricata (soursop).

Genus name comes from the Latinized version of the American Indian (Taino) vernacular name for the cherimoya, soursop or custard-apple.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for mealybugs. Must be protected from frost.

Garden Uses

Ornamental. Fruit production.