Custard Apple or the Ramphal, botanically Annona reticulata, is a fruit plant belonging to the Annonaceae family. Sitaphal or the Sugar Apple is often mistaken for custard apple.
The tree as such doesn't grow very high, but has many branches.
- Origin: West Indies and Central America
- Common names: Custard Apple, Aathachakka, Bull's Heart, Bullock's Heart, Cherimoya,
- Kamansi, Ramphal, Wild Sweetsop, etc.
- Scientific name: Annona reticulata
- Botanical family: Annonaceae
- Edibility rating: 4
- Health Benefits: 3
Custard apple tree is a small deciduous tree or shrub that can reach a height of 5-10 metres. It has an open and spreading habit with a dense leaf crown.
Suitable climatic conditions and soil types:
Custard apple grows well in hot and humid tropical climates with temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius.
A neutral soil that is rich in organic matter is best for growing custard apple.
It tolerates some salinity and adapts to different soil types, including sandy loam, laterite and red soil.
Custard apple grows best in full sun, but can also tolerate partial shade.
Growing tips and planting distance:
Seedlings mature in 3-4 years. Budding plants mature within 1-2 years. It's good practise to prune the branches after harvest. This produces new branches that will bear fruit the next year. The recommended planting distance is 5 to 6 metres.
Custard apple may be grown in large containers. Use a bud plant for the purpose. Like any other potted fruit plant grown in containers, it needs regular supply of nutrients and watering.
Custard apple requires watering during the growing season and during very dry periods.
Ease of Maintenance:
It is a low maintenance plant that requires little care once established. Occasional pruning can be beneficial to maintain shape and remove dead or diseased branches.
Once established, it'll grow without much care. It's also tolerant of draughts.
Description, taste, size and colour of the fruit:
The custard apple is heart-shaped or oval, 7-12 cm in diameter and 100-400 grammes in weight. The flesh is white or yellow, soft and sweet and has a custard-like texture. The fruit contains many black, shiny and hard seeds that aren't edible.
Ramphal is often eaten fresh or made into juice, smoothies, ice cream or other desserts. The flesh
Medicinal uses and nutritional value:
Custard apple has been used to treat various diseases such as fever, dysentery, diarrhoea and worm infestation.