From the Annonaceae family. Native to the Andean valleys of Peru and Ecuador where conditions are mild and therefore will survive in the warm temperate areas of New Zealand or more importantly the warm mild area of your garden. Cherimoyas like to see, but not feel, the snow. Other family members include the Atemoya - requiring more subtropical conditions than the cherimoya and the American pawpaw Asiina tribola which is as hardy as the cherimoya but not nearly as nice a fruit. According to a famous plant explorer; David Fairchild "cherimoya ranks in delicacy of flavour and texture with the best fruit that grow".
This is an underrated tree mainly due to its obscurity. This is a small tree and looks stunning in a container and is ideally suited espaliered along a fence or wall.
Rich in sugars and protein. High in fibre and potassium. Good source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C.
How to Eat
Served chilled slices as fresh fruit. The pulp can be used in fruit salads, ice cream, sorbets and milk shakes.
The yield will depend on whether hand pollination is performed.
Generic Fruiting Time
Will tolerate a little shade but prefers full sun.
Protection needed from wind as the wood is brittle. Not salt tolerant.
Frost tender especially when young. Protect with wind and frost cloth shelters as for Avocado trees. Cherimoyas will grow anywhere a lemon will grow. They like to feel the snow but not touch it. A cold spell will cause nearly ripe fruit to spilt and spoil which can happen with late frosts.
Free draining soil as the roots are prone to root rot.
Plant in the winter when the plant is dormant or growth has slowed right down. They are briefly deciduous at the end of winter. Bud break will not occur until old leaves have fallen. Plant carefully so as not to disturb the roots. Damaged roots will let root rot enter the plant and could kill it. Stake the plant to give it support against winds.
Apply young trees with fowl manure and mulch or a handful of fertiliser high in potassium every month from spring to autumn. Increase this yearly up to 1kg. Foliar feeds are also beneficial.
Prune to maintain the desired shape. There are many ways including training to the vase shape or pyramid. Espaliering it is ideal for the tight area and also growing it simply in a container. Pruning is simply about removing weak and damaged branches while maintaining the framework you require.
Susceptible to root rot
While young your cherimoya will only handle down to -1°C. As the tree gets older it should handle down to -3°C.