Spanish: chirimoya, cherimoya, cherimalla, cherimoyales, anona del Perú, chirimoyo del Perú, cachimán de la China, catuche, momona, girimoya, masa
Portuguese: cherimólia, anona do Chile, fruta do conde, cabeça de negro
English: cherimoya, cherimoyer, annona
French: chérimolier, anone
German: Chirimoyabaum, Cherimoyer, Cherimolia, peruanischer Flaschenbaum, Flachsbaum
Origin. The cherimoya is apparently an ancient domesticate. Seeds have been found in Peruvian archeological sites hundreds of kilometers from its native habitat, and the fruit is depicted on pottery of pre-Inca peoples. The wild trees occur particularly in the Loja area of southwestern Ecuador, where extensive groves are present in sparsely inhabited areas.
Description. A small, erect, or sometimes spreading tree, the cherimoya rarely reaches more than 8 m in height. It often divides at the ground into several main stems. The light-green, three-petaled, perfect flowers are about 2.5 cm long. The fruit is an aggregate, composed of many fused carpels. Depending on degree of pollination, the fruits are heart-shaped, conical, oval, or irregular in shape. They normally weigh about 0.5 kg, with some weighing up to 3 kg. Moss green in color, they have either a thin or thick skin; the surface can be nearly smooth, but usually bears scalelike impressions or prominent protuberances.
Horticultural Varieties. A number of cultivars have been developed. Nearly every valley in Ecuador has a local favorite, as do most areas where the fruit has been introduced. Named commercial varieties include Booth, White, Pierce, Knight, Bonito, Chaffey, Ott, Whaley, and Oxhart. These exhibit great variation in climatic and soil requirements.
In Spain, 200 cultivars from 10 countries are under observation.10
Daylength. Apparently neutral. In its flower-bud formation, this plant does not respond to changes in photoperiod as most fruit species do.