Custard Apple

Custard apple is a common name for a fruit, and the tree which bears it, Annona reticulata. The fruit of the common custard apple (Annona reticulata), also called sugar apple or bullock’s-heart in the West Indies.



The custard apple is believed to be a native of the West Indies but it was carried in early times through Central America to southern Mexico. It has long been cultivated and naturalized as far south as Peru and Brazil. It is commonly grown in the Bahamas and occasionally in Bermuda and southern Florida.


Table of Contents


Height(Avg)

15 - 35 ft. (4.5-10 m)


Approximate pH

5.5 - 6.5


Varieties of Custard Apples


There are two main varieties of Custard Apples, the Pinks Mammoth (or Hillary White) and the African Pride. Both are sweet, juicy and full of flavour.


Pinks Mammoth: Pinks Mammoth are large super sweet fruit which some growers hand pollinate at flowering to improve fruit shape. These trees can produce fruit weighing as much as 3kg. It is from Australia.

African Prides: It is an artificial hybrid produced from a cross between the plants Sugar Apple (Annona squamosa) and Cherimoya (Annona cherimola). It is also known by the name Pineapple Sugar Apple.African Prides are a medium sized, well shaped 500g to 800g fruit that sets well on the tree.


The other varieties are:

  • Red Sitaphal

  • Balanagar

  • Washington

  • British Guinea

  • Island Gem


Planting Custard Apple Tree


Grow in Garden


Soil:

  • They can withstand any type of soil. But the only catch is that they cannot tolerate water stagnation.

  • So better use a well-draining mixture for avoiding this problem.

  • Prepare a mixture of manure, compost, sand(if available) Ratio can be 40:20:20(Soil: Sand: Manure)

Planting:

  • Choose a site that receives good sunlight and have good air flow.

  • Also avoid places where you have grown brinjal, capsicum, tomatoes and potatoes to avoid infection with bacterial wilt.

  • I already stated that these require a well-draining base. So let’s start making one.

  • Dig up a hole that is 60x60x60 cm

  • Leave the hole dry up in the sun light for some days(4 days). This is to sterilize the hole.

  • Now fill the hole with the mix that you have made.

Getting the plant


This must be the first step actually but people are so focused on getting a plant and planting it they dismiss all the other things that could boost up the process.


Grow custard apple from seeds

  • Get the seeds from the fruit you buy

  • Soak it up in water for a whole day(24 hours)

  • Next day you can see the seeds that are potent will be drowned in water

  • The ones that are floating are of no use. You can throw it away.

  • You can sow them directly in Soil (pots or in ground).

  • For this make a hole using your finger and drop the seed in and water it daily such that the soil is not dry

  • Sow a minimum of 4 seeds out of which 2 may germinate.

  • You can even keep them in wet tissue paper and keep them in a zip lock bag to germinate

  • Whatever method you try it takes 2-4 weeks to germinate

Grow Custard Apple from cuttings


There is a method knows as Air-Layering where a healthy branch is selected from a mature tree.


Then an air-tight bag of wet grow medium is tied around this branch which pushes it to root. Now this branch is cut and is planted separately. This reduces the time we wait for fruiting.


Custard Apple Tree Care


Sunlight


Just like members of the malus domestica family, the Custard apple tree requires full sunlight. This should be no surprise considering that this tree is at home in tropical climates. You’re going to want to plant this tree in an area of your yard that has at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight everyday.


With that said, this tree can withstand partial shade.


Watering


The Custard apple tree is only mildly drought-tolerant. This tree requires 700 mm of annual rainfall a year in order to stay healthy. If this tree experiences a considerable drought, it can bear fruit inconsistently for a season or two.


Pruning


Pruning the Custard apple tree is a bit more intensive than pruning your standard malus domestica. Custard apples are very heavy fruit and can weigh down the branches of this tree. You want to trim back the branches to establish strength during the tree’s dormant period. This operation can be a little intense if it involves removing up to two-thirds of the growth from the previous year.


Fertilizing


Like all other plants they require NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium). They require them in the ratio of 2:1:1. So let us see the organic fertilizer sources for them

  • The best source for all the nutrients are the cow dung, goat dung and other manure

  • You can also use vermicompost or any other compost as they have high Nitrogen content in them.

  • Add some panchagavya to soil. Along with the nutrients it has, it also helps in multiplication of the beneficial microbes that will help in fixing the essential nutrients in soil

  • For potassium you can use banana peels, wood ash

  • For phosphorus you can get Fish Amino Acid – Meen Amilam which also supplies potassium and nitrogen

  • You can also add powered remaining fish bones and chicken bones. These too have phosphorous

  • Add Neem or groundnut cake this promotes nitrogen

Feed them monthly once or twice.


As the plant grows so does its need for nutrients. So increase the amount of fertilizers as the tree grows. It will be completely matured in 5 years.


Pests and Diseases


The custard apple is heavily attacked by the chalcid fly. Many if not all of the fruits on a tree may be mummified before maturity. In India, the ripening fruits must be covered with bags or nets to avoid damage from fruit bats.


Benefits of Custard Apples


There are many advantages of custard apple. The health benefits of custard apple have been proven in various research studies, folklore remedies and Ayurvedic medicine. The roots, leaves, bark and flesh of custard apple fruit are all used for their medicinal benefits.


The advantages of custard apple include rectifying cardiac, hepatic or kidney problems. It is used in fruit salads, sherbets, and also used in making jams, milkshakes or ice creams. Traditionally it has been recommended for use in people with cardiac, hepatic, kidney conditions or osteoporosis. Custard apples can be used at any age.


Good for Cancer Treatment


Research studies have revealed that the chemicals isolated from the plant are the main reason behind the great potential of custard apple in renal failure and cancer treatment. The chemical ingredients such as acetogenins and alkaloids impart antineoplastic activities to custard apple. The custard apple seed extract can cause cell death in many cancer cell lines including bladder cancer cells and melanoma tumor cells. The root extracts have shown inhibitory activity against human melanoma cells. It qualifies as a chemoprotective agent in cancer treatment.


Helps in Weight Loss


Custard apple fruit is indicated in slimming diets. Custard apple calories are negligible in amount with zero cholesterol and hence is a great addition for balanced diet intended for weight loss. Custard apple has a glycemic load score of 10 and hence it is essential for diabetes. The sugar level is not spiked with the consumption of custard apple.


Custard apple is an essential ingredient of a healthy diet because it is low in fat content, saturated fat, sodium content, free from cholesterol, an excellent source of Vitamins B6 and C, fiber, potassium, manganese, copper and a good source of Vitamins B1, B2, zinc, magnesium and iron.


Remedy for Inflammatory Diseases


Custard apple has also shown great potential in the development of newer anti-inflammatory agents. Custard apple is a great source of magnesium, which helps in maintaining the water level and eliminating acids from the joints. Custard apple is used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and gout. Custard apple fruit reduces the pain related with auto-inflammatory conditions. The leaves of custard apple also possess anti-inflammatory properties.


Advantages of custard apple also include its use as an analgesic and a central nervous system (CNS) depressant agent.


Remedy for Diarrhea and Dysentery


The unripe custard apple fruit has antidysentric and antidiarrheic properties. The unripe fruit is dried and pulverized for the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery. The seeds are also used in the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery. Bark decoction is also used as a remedy for diarrhea and dysentery.


There are many health benefits of custard apple leaves including its use as a vermifuge and in the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery. A decoction of the leaves, bark and green fruits of custard apple is prepared by boiling in one liter of water for 5 minutes. This decoction is efficacious as a home remedy in the treatment of severe cases of diarrhea and dysentery.


Relief from Colic


Other medicinal use of apple custard leaf is providing relief from colic. A tea is prepared from the leaves of custard apple and given to babies for relief from colic. Warmed leaves are applied on the abdomen for obtaining relief from indigestion in babies and children.


Anti-aging Benefits


Custard apples are a rich source of Vitamin C. Custard apple has great antioxidant properties. The leaf extract has great benefit in quenching free radicals. It also aids in the synthesis of collagen boosting the immune system. It has excellent anti-aging benefits.


Custard Apple is good during Pregnancy


Custard apple has high fiber content which makes it helpful in fighting off constipation commonly found in pregnant women. Custard apple is good for pregnancy because it is a great source of antioxidants and helps in alleviating morning sickness, nausea, numbness and food cravings associated with pregnancy.


According to folklore medicine, custard apple during pregnancy is also beneficial in minimizing the labor pain during childbirth. In addition, it is also beneficial in developing the brain of the fetus, developing the nerves and immune system of the baby effectively. Regular consumption of custard apple during pregnancy minimizes the chance of miscarriages.


Custard apple is also attributed with anti-fertility properties.


Excellent Antioxidant


The chemicals present in custard apple which are responsible for its antioxidant properties are mainly the phenolic compounds Vitamin C is also responsible for the antioxidant properties of custard apple. Hence, it is much better to have natural antioxidants through a balanced diet having an adequate amount of custard apple fruit.


Remedy for Wound Healing


The crushed leaves of custard apple or custard apple paste can be applied as a poultice on boils, abscesses and ulcers. The paste to be used as a poultice can be prepared from the leaves and also the flesh of the fruits.


Treats Malaria


Another important medicinal use of apple custard leaf is in the treatment of malaria and syphilis.


Good for Cardiovascular


Apple custard is an excellent source of potassium. In addition, this fruit can help regulate and control fluctuations in blood pressure in the body. Custard apple's high magnesium level may aid in relaxing the smooth heart muscle, reducing the risk of a heart attack. In addition, this fruit contains fiber and niacin, which help lower harmful cholesterol levels while increasing good cholesterol levels in the body.


Help to fight Diabetes


Custard apples are not only low glycemic fruits but also packed with polyphenolic antioxidants. They significantly increase insulin production and glucose absorption, thereby keeping diabetes in check.


Custard apple fruit has many anti-diabetic properties. Custard apple can help fight diabetes If it's taken in small amounts. It's a sweet fruit, but because its glycemic load is lower, it doesn't have much of an impact.


Besides, the presence of antioxidants increases insulin production and slows down the absorption of glucose in the blood. Both the custard apple and its leaves have many anti-diabetic properties, making it a suitable fruit for diabetics.


Uses


Food Uses


In India, the fruit is eaten only by the lower classes, out-of-hand. In Central America, Mexico and the West Indies, the fruit is appreciated by all. When fully ripe it is soft to the touch and the stem and attached core can be easily pulled out. The flesh may be scooped from the skin and eaten as is or served with light cream and a sprinkling of sugar. Often it is pressed through a sieve and added to milk shakes, custards or ice cream.


Other Uses


The leaves have been employed in tanning and they yield a blue or black dye. A fiber derived from the young twigs is superior to the bark fiber from Annona squamosa. Custard apple wood is yellow, rather soft, fibrous but durable, moderately close-grained, with a specific gravity of 0.650. It has been used to make yokes for oxen.


The seeds (in powdered form) of custard apple are used as a remedy for lice and dandruff in some parts of India.


Medicinal Uses


The leaf decoction is given as a vermifuge. Crushed leaves or a paste of the flesh may be poulticed on boils, abscesses and ulcers. The unripe fruit is rich in tannin; is dried, pulverized and employed against diarrhea and dysentery. The bark is very astringent and the decoction is taken as a tonic and also as a remedy for diarrhea and dysentery. In severe cases, the leaves, bark and green fruits are all boiled together for 5 minutes in a liter of water to make an exceedingly potent decoction. Fragments of the root bark are packed around the gums to relieve toothache. The root decoction is taken as a febrifuge.

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