Custard Apple |
Annona squamosa |
Custard apple is a small, well-branched deciduous or semi-evergreen tree or shrub from the family Annonaceae, that bears edible fruits called sugar-apples or sweetsops. Most of the Annona squamosal tolerates tropical and subtropical climate, attains a height up to 10 meters. It is now widely cultivated at most of the tropical belts, the exact origin of Annona is unknown. The custard apple does best in low-lying, deep, rich soil with ample moisture and good drainage. It is sensitive to cold and frost, being defoliated below 10°C and killed by temperatures of a couple of degrees below freezing. It is only moderately drought-tolerant, requiring at least 700 mm of annual rainfall, and will not produce fruit well during droughts. In traditional medicine, the leaves are used in a decoction to treat dysentery and urinary tract infection; they are also crushed and applied to wounds. Among other popular uses, the leaves are employed in tanning and also yield a blue or black dye and the bark is used for tying the frames of huts.