The soursop is a tropical fruit tree related to the cherimoya or custard apple. Its other common names are guanabana and graviola. Its scientific name is Annona muricata and it is classified in the family Annonidae. Other important Annonids include the pawpaw or papaya.
The tree is a broadleaf, flowering evergreen native to West Indies, Mexico, Cuba, Central America and northern South America. It has been exported to many other countries and so is now also grown in sub-saharan Africa, South East Asia, many Pacific Islands, Florida and Australia. It has become a staple food throughout southeast Asia, the Philippines and Indonesia.
The fruit of the soursop is green and spiky on the outside and creamy white on the inside with black seeds. The flavor of of the fruit is both creamy and tart like a combination of coconut and lemon. It is quite refreshing and can be made into a nice drink or can be used as an ice cream flavoring. Soursop fruit is packed with vitamins and other healthy ingredients. These include Vitamin C, Vitamin B 1, Vitamin B12. Calcium, Iron, healthy fats, protein and healthy carbohydrates. In addition, soursop fruit is cholesterol free and low in calories.
Potentially the fruit and other parts of the tree also have uses in medicine. It has been reported that ingredients in the soursop fruit can kill cancer cells more effectively than chemotherapy drugs and without negative side effects. According to an article in the journal, Cancer Research UK, (as reported here), soursop is an active ingredient in a herbal remedy called Triamazon. It is also an antimicrobial agent for both bacterial and fungal infections and is effective against internal parasites and worms. It can lower high blood pressure and has been used to treat depression and stress.
This tree grows best in warm, wet, tropical conditions. It will grow in any kind of soil but prefers loose, deep loam and well drained soil with a slightly acidic pH from 6.1 to 6.5. It thrives well from sea level up to 300 meters above sea level although it can grow up to 1000 meters. It will grow to 3 to ten meters tall. It can tolerate some drought conditions and will grow in partial shade. It is recommended for anyone who wishes to grow a food forest as it fruits prolifically after a few years. The fruit are also potentially a cash crop.
This tree still grows wild in the Amazon rainforest along with many other unnamed and unstudied plants. It is why we must fight to save the Amazon because we do not know what other species grow there that can be used in medicine or as food. It is too important to destroy for short term profit.