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Atemoya: growing this unusual and delicious fruit.

Atemoya

(Annona cherimola × squamosa)

 

Atemoya overview:

The atemoya is a delicious hybrid of two fruits (the sugar-apple and the cherimoya)

atemoya fruit almost ready to pick

A large atemoya fruit which is ready to pick

Atemoya fruit appearance:

  • The fruit is heart-shaped or rounded and ranges in size from 8 in to 12 in length.  Increased fruit size and number of fruit is obtained by hand pollination or planting another atemoya nearby.
  • The thin skin/rind is pale-green and tends to yellow a bit as it ripens.  The flesh is snow white with many hard black seeds.  The black seeds are inedible/toxic.
A developing atemoya fruit with very prominent areoles

A young atemoya fruit with very prominent areoles

  • The outer surface of the fruit usually has many stubby like projections called areoles.
    • As a side, this is somewhat interesting to me because the word areolas is the medical name for the pigmented area around the human nipple.
    • Therefore, whoever originally described these bumps apparently imagined the fruit covered in nipples.
    • On that note, I have noticed that some fruit have larger areoles than others and that the fruit tend to flatten out as they get older… I digress.
A cut atemoya fruit showing the white flesh and black seeds

A cut atemoya fruit, ready to eat

Atemoya fruit taste:

  • The atemoya fruit can be difficult to describe.  When pressed, many simply say it tastes like nothing else.
  • The texture is solid but melting and juicy, similar to custard or flan but more juicy than creamy. 
  • There is a subtle background grittiness that is almost identical to a typical pear.  Overall the taste is tropical but difficult to pin down.   It is very sweet with a suggestion of Piña colada or vanilla.  Some have reported that it is a little tart or acid, which I haven’t personally noticed.
  • Overall, the atemoya tastes rather similar to a cherimoya in flavor; the major difference between the two plants being the atemoya tree’s espalier-like growth habit.
  • Update 9/19/15: A fellow contributing reader has added that Atemoya tastes like “the perfect version of ‘Mango Float’ that hangs on the tree.”  That is a great description. Thanks Requintto!

 

Video taste:

My father in law often talked about how wonderful it was to eat atemoya fruit in the Philippines… sometimes lamenting that he hasn’t had any to eat since he left the Philippines decades ago.  Therefore, I thought I would try to being the fruit to him in my backyard garden.  The video below is of me asking him and his wife to describe the taste of the atemoya fruit as he devours it.

 

Atemoya fruit season:

  • I have read that in Florida, the atemoya ripens in the fall. However, for me (in San Diego California) the season for fruit is rather different.   In my experience, there are 2 major fruit picking seasons.  One is June to August and the other big season for picking fruit is from January to April.
  • The tree starts to fruit when around 4 years old.

 

When is atemoya fruit ripe to pick: 

  • This is important because if picked too soon, the atemoya fruit will not ripen.
  • However, there are several signs to help you determine if the atemoya fruit is ready to pick.  The most reliable sign that I have noticed is that the skin of the fruit turns from green to lighter green-yellow.  In addition, the bumps on the skin of the atemoya fruit (the areoles) tend to flatten out when the fruit is ready to pick.  I have also noticed that the stem attachment to the fruit begins to separate at the edges at optimal picking time.  The fruit is often hard at this point but may feel a tad bit softer than the greener fruit nearby. If you see these changes you should be in good shape to pick the fruit.
  • If you allow the fruit to hang on the tree a bit longer, it will often continue to become softer to the touch. If you wait too long, the fruit will start to become black and spoil on the tree… or drop off the tree and then rot.  Sometimes the fruit will drop off the tree and be perfectly ready, but this is a gamble.
  • The pesky squirrels will also find the softer fruit more appealing and therefore you might find yourself competing with these raiders for the ripe and ready atemoya’s hanging on the tree. Finally, I have noticed that sometimes the seeds will start to germinate within the atemoya fruit that is picked later on.  At this stage, the black part of the seeds can sometimes mingle within the juicy flesh. Considering the seeds are poisonous, this black seed stained flesh may not be the best thing to eat.
  • Anyhow, if you pick or buy the atemoya fruit when it is hard, you have to let it ripen before you eat it. Allow the atemoya fruit to ripen in a dark area at room temp for a few days until it feels lightly soft to touch.  Ripening and softness is similar to an avocado.

 

atemoya fruit just ripe enough to pick

The atemoya fruit in this pic shows just a tinge of yellow at the top (between the areoles) which was just enough to allow the fruit to ripen off the tree.

 

Contributing reader Bob sent in this pic of his atemoya tree with two fruits. In his March 3rd 2015 comment below, he is intreasted in knowing if the fruit in the picture are ready to pick yet. In my opinion, the one on top is more ready than the one on the bottom because the bumps are flattening out. This is not a perfect science, however, if it was me, I would wait a bit longer until the green color of the fruit lightens up a bit more and the green-yellow color is a bit more evident.

Contributing reader Bob sent in this pic of his atemoya tree with two fruits on it. In his March 3rd 2015 comment below, he is interested in knowing if the fruit in the picture are ready to pick yet.                                                                                          In my opinion, the atemoya fruit on top is more ready than the one on the bottom because the bumps on the surface of the fruit are flattening out on the top fruit. This is not a perfect science, however, if it was me, I would wait a bit longer until the green color of the fruit lightens up a bit. I would like to see more of the green-yellow color on the fruit.                                                                                                         Also noticed on the right side of the picture… awesome use of a pool cue stick as a plant support. Lol, good one Bob.

 

 

Landscaping use:

  • The tree naturally grows as an espalier, which makes it a great addition to narrow planting spaces.
  • In my experience it is a medium to fast-growing tree, and is said to be able to reach 30+ feet in height.  However, it is easily trained with pruning in the dormant season. The wood is brittle so pruning also helps the tree to support the heavy fruit.
  • The branches droop somewhat and the lowest branches often touch the ground.
  • Young plants need staking.
  • The leaves are green with a prominent light green central vein.
  • The atemoya is semi deciduous; losing some of its leaves in late winter/early spring.

 

Atemoya Pollination:

  • The flowers are green elongated and easily missed on casual inspection.
  • An atemoya flower demonstrates its male and female parts at different times of the day.
    • As the flower opens, the female stage is revealed around 2-4pm.
    • The following afternoon around 3-5pm, the flower opens more to uncover the male part of the same flower.
  • Atemoya’s are sometimes misshapen and underdeveloped on one side due to inadequate pollination.  Apparently self-pollination is rare and therefore, dedicated gardeners may self pollinate the flowers to increase fruiting and fruit size.  However, myself, I just planted 2 atemoya next to each other and I have been getting some nice fruit without hand pollination.
An atemoya fruit flower is opening to show off its girly parts

An atemoya fruit flower is opening to show off its girly parts

Soil:

 

Water:

  • I have been watering the atemoya tree with my usual drip system irrigation 2-3 x a week in the growing season (April to January).
  • The plant is prone to root rot with prolonged moist conditions.
  • The trees don’t seem to like the dry air of the desert where the leaves are easily damaged by dry Santa Ana winds.

 

Sun:

Full

 

Atemoya fertilization:

  • In many commercial plantings, no fertilizer is applied until after the trees are well established because the young roots are very sensitive.
  • After the atemoya tree is established, some have recommended the use a 6-10-16 fertilizer formula, with half of the total years dose given in the spring.
  • Personally, I have been using 15-15-15 because that is what I have on hand most of the time.  I spread the fertilizer around the root zone about 4 different times per year starting in the late winter and ending in mid-summer.

 

Temp:

  • The parents of the atemoya are subtropical plants native to northwest parts of South America and traditionally grown in cool mountain altitudes at the equator.
  • The plant can withstand a light frost but not much more than that.   However, the plant has been reported to survive a drop in temperature to 26.5°F (-3.10°C).
  • For more information about the lowest temperatures that you can expect in your area, check out my article “Climate Zones: What can I grow in my yard?”

 

Atemoya pests:

  • The main pests in California are mealybugs and scale.
    • Tanglefoot on masking tape around the trunk helps keep the ants away that bring in the mealybugs and scale.
  • I have also read that you shouldn’t plant this tree in old vegetable gardens, near tomatoes, eggplant or asters because atemoya are susceptible to the same soil diseases.
  • Atemoyas are also susceptible to Armillaria (Oak Root Fungus) and Verticillium.
  • Squirrels have also discovered the atemoya fruit.  Therefore, I keep a close eye on the fruit and pick them a little early because I don’t like to share with my rodent neighbors.  The Havahart squirrel trap is one good-karma control option.
  • I found some additional diseases to be aware of on the hort purdue website.  The following are direct quotes from the site.
    • The chalcid fly that lays eggs in the seeds and makes exit holes in the fruit permitting entrance of fungi, occasionally causes mummification of the atemoya. White wax, pink wax, and brown olive scales may be found on the foliage but are shed along with the leaves.
    • A condition called “littleleaf” is not a disease but zinc deficiency which can be corrected by foliar spraying.
    • Atemoyas are prone to collar rot (Phytophthora sp.), the first sign being an exudation of gum near the base of the trunk and on the crown roots.

 

Food Use:

  • Atemoya fruit tastes great fresh, but it tastes best when chilled.
  • It is often added to desserts.
  • Some make ice cream out of it.
  • Note: the Atemoya fruit seeds are toxic, so don’t go putting this fruit in a blender before taking the seeds out.

 

Misc:

  • The atemoya, is a hybrid of two fruits – the sugar-apple (Annona squamosa) and the cherimoya (Annona cherimola)
  • The first reported intended cross that I have found, was made in 1908 by P.J. Wester, a horticulturist at the USDA’s Subtropical Laboratory in Miami. However, I suspect natural crosses happen its native habitat.
  • The name, “atemoya”, is a combination of ate, an old Mexican name for sugar-apple, and “moya” from cherimoya.
  • The atemoya is also known as: pineapple sugar apple, anon, chirimorinon, achta, cuatemoya, atis, ates.
  • Some people have called the atemoya an ashta tree but most references refer to the ashta tree as another name for the sugar apple… and the sugar apple is a different plant (it is one of the parents of the atemoya).

 

About Thomas Osborne, MD

Dr. Osborne is a Harvard trained Radiologist and Neuroradiologist who loves to share his insight about medicine and gardening.

131 comments

  1. Thanks for post thing info and the video – very cute. What a testimonial to how good this fruit must taste.
    We are off to Hawaii next month and just read an article in Outside Magazine that this fruit is available at the farmers market there so we will be sure and check it out.

    Since we also have a son in law doing his residency in San Diego we will forward this info on to him. Maybe he can find a plant to put in his courtyard.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Christopher

      Your very welcome; it is an awesome fruit.
      I was just in the Atemoya corner of my yard. The fruits are big and should be ripe soon.
      Therefore, your son might even be able to get some fruit around here soon.
      However, the related Cherimoya is more commonly grown and easier to find in specialty supermarkets and farmers markets.
      I am growing both but I have more luck with the Atemoya and I like the fruit better too.

      Have a great time in Hawaii.
      T

      • Hello Doctor Thomas Osborne thanks for a nice and informative blog about Atemoya fruit. For me the best thing to describe the taste of Atemoya is the perfect version of “Mango Float” that hangs on the tree.

  2. Hello,

    I live in San Diego as well and recently bought atemoya (African pride). We mixed Kellogg’s grow mulch during planting with the soil. I noticed a few leaves with brown edges after transplanting it to the ground. What could possibly go wrong? Should I use fertilizer to promote growth? If so, what kind?

    There are 5 fruit buds sitting on one side of the plant as well.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Ami: My fellow San Diegan

      Humm, good question:
      Leaves with brown edges could mean a few things.

      Sometimes, plants will show their water stress with brown leaf ends. Considering that it sounds like this happened soon after planting, this may be a leading consideration (even the most careful planting can damage roots which in turn means less water gathering ability for the plant –> water stress).

      Too much salt in the soil will burn the ends of leaves for many trees. For example, this is especially true (and well documented) for avocados.

      Atemoyas are partially deciduous trees. Meaning that they drop some of their leaves in the winter. However, some of the leaves don’t fall off in the winter… but sort-of brown at the ends… as if they are not sure they want to leave the tree. In my experience, this is normal for atemoyas in San Diego. The fact that you see new buds on the tree is very encouraging and therefore the browning that you are seeing may just be the plant doing it’s normal seasonal thing.

      Over fertilizing any plant can lead to root damage and leaf burn. So obviously, if this is a possibility, I wouldn’t give more fertilizer. However, if this does not seem to be a concern, then I would just fertilize your as per usual.

      Best,

      Tom

  3. Thank you for this well written intro and informed article on the atemoya fruit tree.
    It was a totally spontaneous purchase after exploring the Ong Nursery 2 mos ago; African Pride.
    Tasted the fruit sample and was hooked. Glad your info is from San Diego, so I know tree should do well.
    I will not have space for a second tree so will be hand pollinating (?). Our tree is abt 2 yrs old. I’m a rookie with this and look forward to this learning journey. Hope to be able to tap your experience should I need it…. BEAR THAT FRUIT!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Liz
      Thank you very much for your note.
      I am looking forward to hearing about your journey.
      Being able to grow your own fresh organic (and sometimes exotic) food is very satisfying/empowering.
      I am very happy to help you in your journey.
      Best,
      Tom

  4. I have really enjoyed your input on this subject and found it very informative. I am particularly interested in information from the San Diego regional perspective. I also live in San Diego and have a Cherimoya, but have been thinking of planting an Atemoya as well. Do you have any input as to some of your favorite varieties for our area? I have read that ‘Lisa’ is an excellent variety, but that ‘African Pride’ and ‘Geffner’ are more easily attainable. I would appreciate any comments you have on the subject and if you know what variety your in-laws were tasting – great video by the way! I love how your father-in-law could not stop eating the fruit! I have had fresh Gunabana juice (Annona muricata) and found it the best fruit smoothie I have ever tasted. I would like to try to recreate that smoothie here in San Diego using Cherimoya and Atemoya that grow better here.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Bob
      Thanks for the great feedback.

      Atemoya vs Cherymoya:
      Atemoya are great. In my experience they grow better and fruit more than my Cherimoya trees.
      May people say you have to hand pollinate… but I just put two trees next to each other and that seems to have done the trick. I havent done any hand pollination and they fruit a lot. There are currently 7 large atemoya fruits hanging from one 6 foot tree with no hand pollination.

      Varieties:
      I have 2 African Pride Atemoya trees.
      I believe they are grafted on cherimoya root stock.
      African Pride Atemoya seem to do very well in our area, but I am sure others would too.. I just dont have personal experience with other varieties.

      Video:
      Yea thanks. That is a fun video.
      It is funny how he would not stop eating the fruit. He was so happy to dig in to it.
      The fruit in the video is from my African Pride Atemoya trees.

      Best of luck.
      Looking forward to hearing about your experience and about your smoothie recipe.

      Tom

      • Thank you for the information on the Atemoya Tom. On your recommendation and those of others, I have purchased an ‘African Pride’ and ordered a ‘Geffner” since it is also suppose to self pollinate well These will be planted this summer and I hope to get fruit next year. The African Pride is already flowering, but I am sure the fruit may not form since I will be transplanting it soon. I’ll keep you up to date on my adventures with Atemoya.

      • Dr. Osborne,
        Where in San Diego did you purchase the African Pride atemoya?
        Thanks,
        Amit

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hi Amit

          California Tropical Fruit Trees:
          It has been a while, but I believe I purchased those trees at “California Tropical Fruit Trees” They are a bit more expensive than some other places but they have a great selection and in general have healthy trees.

          Ong Nuresry:
          I have also seen a wide variety of great looking Cherymoya and Atemoya at Ong nursery. I have been there many times. They have a great selection and very reasonably priced hard to find fruit trees, but the place is basically the first generation owners yard. A very different buying experience.

          Bonita Creek Nursery:
          Bonita Creek Nursery is on my list of places to visit… just havent been there yet. Their website states that they sell both Atemoya and Cherymoya.

          Clausen Nursery:
          Clausen Nursery has excellent prices and lots of fruit trees but the last I checked they only have Cherymoya. They are always looking into new carrying inventory and may have plans to carry Atamoya. Its such a great place, it might be worth a call to check.

          Exotica Rare Fruit Nursery:
          Exotica Rare Fruit Nursery is literally just down the street from Clausen Nursery. They have a large selection of tropical fruit trees and I am pretty darn sure they have Atemoya. However, visiting the place is a bit of a trip.. literally… The vibe (the last I checked) was 1960s and a bit disorganized. Prices are a bit more than you would expect from such an informal layout but they have lots of hard to find trees. Again, worth a call if you are going to be nearby.

          Hope this helps!

  5. Hello Dr. Osborne. I have been reading your site and have been enjoying the information and learning from it. I just bought and planted an african pride about a month ago. It looks very healthy and I have been babying it since. There are three flowers when I bought it but unfortunately, the first one that bloomed with the tiny fruit did not hold on and fell on the ground. The second one just opened up and hopefully will go all the way. We’ll see. If I may ask you, is this normal? Thank you Dr. Osborne!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Joey
      Thank you very much for the positive feedback and congrats on your new tree.

      Thank you for also bringing up this important question.

      Flowers at planting:
      This may not be what you want to hear… But, I intentionally remove flowers at the time of planting.

      Transplantation stress:
      Getting established in a new home can be stressful for anyone; esp plants.
      Stress can suck up all of your reserve energy and therefore lead to even more stress/illness etc.
      With limited resources, you need to be very selective as to where that energy goes.

      Costly flowers and fruit:
      Plants use significant energy creating and maintaining flowers.
      If that flower then turns into a fruit, then even more energy is diverted by the plant.
      At this critical early transplantation stage, I would rather the plants energy go elsewhere.

      Early Transplantation goal:
      Early on, my main objective is a healthy tree, which will put me in a position to get more fruit in the future.

      Its kindof like business; you have to invest in a solid infrastructure before you can expect decent a return on your investment.
      If you try to get returns out of the business too early, it will negatively impact long term profits.
      Sometimes, this can even kill a business.

      Therefore, by removing the flowers at transplantation, I am enabling the plant to spend its limited resources on developing its infrastructure.
      This botanical foundation includes things such as a strong root system and leaves.
      This will be the framework for a healthier tree that will be in a much better position in the years to come.

      Self management:
      Sometimes, plants will just know what they need to do.
      They sense that they need to put all of their efforts into getting established and they will will automatically drop their flowers.
      This may be a sign of an enlightened tree… or one that has good business sense.

      Hang on:
      Today I picked a fat >6 inch long Atemoya fruit from one of my trees.
      Keep up the good work and when your tree is ready it will give back too.
      Looking forward to hearing about your progress.

      Best,
      Tom

      • Dr. Osborne, thank you very much! I just took out the remaining two flowers I mentioned. After all, you are the expert. By the way, is atemoya all year round as far as bearing fruit? Thanks again.

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hey Joey
          You are very welcome.

          Atemoya fruit does hang on the tree all year long; there are large ripe fruit and small developing fruit on my trees now.
          The small fruit developing now will take nearly a year to get to the picking stage.

          Overall, the main season for harvest depends at least somewhat on where you live and your specific micro climate.
          For me the majority of the fruit become ready for picking in the June to August time range.
          It’s nice that they don’t all ripen at once and I therefore have a long eating season.

          Best,
          Tom

          • Hi Tom, my name is Nalani and I just wanted to take a moment to introduce myself as a fellow fruit lover. I currently work at Bonita Creek nursery or we have lots of Adam where is cherimoyas many other exotic fruit species. I find your post to be extremely informative and interesting and just downright

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Hi Nalani
            Thanks for the comments.
            I have heard that Bonita Creek Nursery is a wonderful place.
            However, it looks like your comment-note might have been cut off.
            Please let me know if I missed something in your message.
            Thanks,
            Tom

      • Allen Peterson, RN

        Well said! Dr. Thomas Osborne, I’d like to invite you to a private Cherimoya Facebook group called “Cherimoya Growers”. Just place a search underneath this name in your Facebook search & I’d be glad to add you to our group!

        Also, here is a YouTube video I created on an Atemoya, I’ve been caring for the tree & enjoying all there is to learn about growing Atemoya/Cherimoyas.

        https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RQ5rwHopZ3c

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Thanks Allen
          Congrats, your Cherimoya looks looks very healthy.
          Thank you for the invite.. .I am not on Facebook yet.. I know it is crazy. its on my list of things to do.
          Best,
          Tom

  6. Hello again Dr. Osborne.

    I hope everything is well with you and your family. My african pride atemoya is going strong after taking advices from you. If I may ask, now that is almost fall, how often should I water my atemoya? Please advise and thank you once again. Salamat po!

    Joey

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Joey

      That’s great news and thank you for the follow up.
      Congrats!

      How to water in the fall is a good question.
      As you know the weather can be erratic this time of year.
      Lately is has been extra hot and dry (at least in Southern California).
      Therefore, it is hard give you an exact number.
      To some degree, it will depend on the weather.

      So my advice is to keep a close eye on things.
      As I am sure you know, this first year in the ground is critical for your Atemoya.
      Make sure the soil is not too dry.
      For example, if more than the first 1 cm of soil becomes dry to the touch, consider a deep watering.

      On that note; less frequent deep watering is better than frequent shallow watering.

      Watching the leaves may also provide clues; obviously, if the leaves are wilting you should check on things.

      All that being said, try not to over water too.
      For example, you shouldn’t need to water every day.
      Every other day should be fine as long as the soil has great drainage.
      If the soil is soggy just before the next scheduled watering, then you need to cut way back.

      When (if) the winter rains come, you can start cutting back on the watering.

      Hope this helps.

      Tom

  7. Hi Dr Osborne,

    I’m a san diegan as well. Just planted an atemoya from ong nursery over half a year now. I was able to hand pollinate a few fruits. Can you let me know the time frame it’ll take to come to full fruit? Also, I heard the best time to hand pollinate is in early April to August. Are there months we shouldn’t try to pollinate? Thanks for your help.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Bob

      Congrats on your growing fruit.

      Fruit development time?
      As a baseline, the “The Encyclopedia of Fruit and Nuts” states that it takes 16 to 26 weeks for atemoya fruit development (see page 56 on that link).

      However in my experience, it seems to take much longer… more like 8 months.
      That encyclopedia also states that the timing of fruit development depends on conditions (cool and dry weather = slow fruit development, hot weather = faster fruit development). So this might explain some of the significant differences that I am observing.

      Another thing I have noticed is that even though 20 fruit may have been pollinated at the same time, the fruit will not all ripen at the same time. The first fruit to become ripe may do so up to 2 months before the last fruit to become ripe. That is an interesting feature of this plant that was unexpected for me. However, it is great that I have fruit available over a long period of time.

      The best thing I can tell you is to watch your plant. Watch to see the fruit grow to a mature size and to turn in color from dark green to pale-green/green-yellow. Once that change happens, you are ready to pick.

      I like to keep a regular eye on all my plants to make sure they are healthy. I also just enjoy watching them grow and develop. So to me it is a non issue to keep regular tabs on things. Therefore, if you have limited time, I would at least check back in on them at 16 weeks to see how things are going with the fruit development. However, since the timing of fruit development may be influenced by changing environmental growing conditions, this timeline may be altered from season to season.

      When to pollinate?
      I dont hand pollinate my plants and they produce a ton of fruit. So I many not be the best person to ask about this.
      However, if you wanted to pollinate your atemoya flowers, I don’t know why the time of year would matter.
      If the plant produces flowers I would give it a shot.

  8. Thanks dr Osborne. I saw another post on the wax jambu. I didn’t know it was that easy to propagate it. I’m currently seeding by dropping the seeds in my fish tank sump which had 100% rate of roots come out after a week but got to try your method after seeing that post.

    Have you try to propagate atemoya? I was able to air layer a cherimoya before but haven’t try on my atemoya since it’s not that mature yet. I love this fruit. It’s the closest to an anonas from my country. It’ll be great to be able propagate it and have multiple trees next to each other to avoid hand pollination.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      You are very welcome Bob. Thanks for the comments.

      I was also surprised how easy it is to grow the wax jambu (makopa) from a cutting.

      Your fish tank method sounds interesting too… cool.

      I am currently growing several atemoya seedlings.
      Sometimes (late in the harvest season) when you open up an atemoya fruit, you can find that the seeds have already put out roots.
      The seedlings grow very fast and the trees fruit at a young age.
      The only problem is that the trees grown from seeds produce fruit with variable quality.

      But that dosent bother me, I figure you cant really loose.
      If the fruit from a particular tree grown from seed is not good, then just use it as root stock.
      If the fruit is good, then even better… you might have a new variety!

      Best,
      Tom

  9. By the way, do you have any atemoya for sale or know any other place in San Diego that I go beside ong nursery? Thanks

  10. The location is too far from where I live and delivery is 85-150$. Let me know if you have any stock for a reasonable price. I can purchase your seeding plant if you want to sell it.

  11. Carolyn Apostolides

    Really enjoyed this post, thank you! We are also here in San Diego (fellow physician family as well) and have an African Pride Atemoya that we purchased from Bonita Creek Nursery. I bring it up because my guess is that most of you would have a good time there- we found it by accident and spent the day eating dozens of varieties of rare, crazy fruits I had never heard of right off their trees. Because we live on the Peninsula in Point Loma, not everything was viable here on our salty, marine-layer prone, soil. But we did end up with over 30 trees of all sorts of rare things that do work in our yard, and they helped us plant everything and maintain it. Delicious, especially for our kids to pick and eat from their own yard. Last I spoke with Nalani, the main arborist there, she mentioned the various varieties of Atemoya they were working on creating as an improved variety. Im just so impressed at the fruit they get from trees in pots. And for the person asking above about buying fruit, the place let us eat as we shopped and also was selling some bagged fruit of various kinds to people touring. Happy gardening!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thank you for your kind comments Carolyn; happy to hear you enjoyed the post.
      It also sounds like you have created a little haven for your kids.
      What a wonderful way to grow up; enjoying the fruits of your backyard.

      Thank you also for for the tip about Bonita Creek Nursery. It sounds like a wonderful place.
      If they would like, I would be happy to meet the owners and write an article about them/their nursery.
      I did this for Clausen Nursery a while back and they have gotten a lot of traffic as a result (see below link).
      From what you have mentioned, it sounds like they would also be worthy of the additional positive exposure.

      Thanks,
      Tom

      • Carolyn Apostolides

        Thanks Tom. I let Nalani know, and she’s excited to check out your blog as well. You’ve got to meet her, she is a very special person with a passion for these trees. And haha, I promise I don’t work for her in any way! I just am that impressed. Best, Carolyn

  12. Funny, we are a physician family too and also have atemoya (and about 50 other rare ones) in the San Diego area. I got mine from Quang Ong at Ong’s but it sounds like there are lots around. I wonder what it is with docs and exotic gardening. I very much appreciate your posts Tom – thanks for the education.

    Greg

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Greg.
      Thank you for your positive comments.

      That is funny you mentioned that about docs-gardening.
      I have noticed the same thing that you mentioned; “what is is with docs and exotic gardening”

      Perhaps it has something to do with the art and science of keeping something healthy.
      Or perhaps it is just a welcome getaway from the typical hectic-clinical work day.
      Or perhaps it it taping into the ancient side of medicine (being close to and knowledgeable of plants for healing).
      Any theories on your side?

      Best,
      Tom

      • Carolyn Apostolides

        Well, I’m just the wife (lawyer in recovery, full time mom now), but I think after spending hours in surgery and up all night with calls from patients and the various stressors of physician life and liability, there is something so calming for him about working in the garden. It’s also a hobby that is never perfected. You are always learning more, trying new things, and literally waiting for the fruits of your labor.

        I’m curious what you guys are harvesting this week. We have lots of strawberry guavas, improved Meyer lemons, pineapple guavas, Persian bitter orange, and a million heirloom tomatoes and picadillo peppers at the moment. Everything else is still asleep. Our Prince Almond is starting to bloom, as are the Fuji Apple and Comice Pears. The grapes are waking up too. I’m excited for what the season ahead brings.

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Thanks Carolyn

          Garden calm:
          I agree, there is something truly calming about working in the garden; I am grateful for every minute out there.

          So whats happening now in the garden:
          Heres a highlight of what is on the top of my head from my last walk in the garden. My Atemoya trees, June Plum, Lemons, Citrons, kumquats Valencia oranges, are full of fruit, many of which I have been picking. Australian finger lime fruit are growing. Lots of other citrus in various stages of flowering and fruit. Limes are also ready, but they seem to fruit all year long anyways. Amazingly my strawberry tree (Jamaica cherry) has been both flowering and fruiting with ripe fruit-very strange for this time of year. The Macadamia trees are both ready with ripe nuts and flowering. Florida Prince peach fruit are growing (they are always early). Many other stone fruit trees and apple trees are flowering. The Surinam Cherry bushes are coated with flowers. Cherry of the Rio Grand is also putting out a good amount of flowers. Mulberries are about 1/2 ready. Some tropical guavas are nearly ready, but my strawberry and lemon guava are resting at the moment… however the strawberry guava looks like it is about to flower. Starfruit is showing some flower buds. Longans and Manila Mango are putting out lots of flower buds.

      • Certainly there is the zen of the garden that helps me wind down after work. My wife (also a doc) and the kids and I spend a lot of time out there. I would add that it’s nice to spend a few hours doing fun work and not have to spend twice as much time documenting it.

        We have ripe citrus (gold nugget tangerine – Kishu’s all gone, various lemons, limes, oranges, one really small finger lime, kumquot), guava, haas avocado (both hass and reed flowering now but haas still has a ton of fruit). Cherimoya still has a few fruit, we ate all the atemoya. The asparagus just started shooting up so I think we have eaten maybe 5 or 6 shoots raw. Some other veggies in the garden (ate a few sugar snaps this AM before work).

        Flowering is a lot of stuff – nectaplum, cherries, tropic snow and august pride peach but not the other ones, none of the nectarines, santa rosa but not bergundy plum, cot n candy aprium, flavor king pluot but not flavor grenade, kohala longan, apples all just started flowering, just pulled all of my breba figs, about half the grapes started, and some of the pears have broken dormancy. Oh, and valencia pride mango has a ton of flowers on that I have finally learned my lesson about – let the fruits get as big as a quarter before you start thinning or it will just keep flowering.

        Wax Jambu looks terrible but might be starting a small flush.

        • Oh and a billion blueberries of various varieties that the chickens keep eating.

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Chickens…
            Now thats something I have not gotten into – but would like to.
            Problem is that my wife is against having pet birds running around.
            Anyhow, hows your chicken experience going otherwise?

          • Putting up a fence so that they are restricted to the orchard (they tear up everything else including garden beds) but otherwise great. They are great pest control for the orchard – they love eating snails and bugs. We also get all the eggs we can eat and now that the FDA is removing dietary cholesterol from the “concern” list I can eat all I want (I did anyway). It’s also fun to sit around and watch “chicken TV”.

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Thats sounds fun.
            Any issues with local cats-dogs-coyotes getting at the chickens?

          • None. Yard is fenced though. The issues with predators are generally at night for full grown birds (hawks can get the little ones during the day). At night they are closed up in the coop (they put themselves in at night anyway so we just have to close the door).

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            They put themselves in at night… Wow, better than kids!

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Sounds awesome Greg.
          Thanks for sharing your garden status.
          Funny what you said about medicine and “spending twice as much time documenting it.”
          Wax Jambu seem to be rather cold and moisture sensitive compared to most of the trees we grow around here… it might just be the time of year.
          Thanks,
          Tom

        • Carolyn Apostolides

          Wow, both of your gardens are making me envious! All of my stone fruit trees and most nuts are still asleep. Truly, things are barely awake here. It really goes to show how different the microclimate is here on the peninsula. Often I will have a sunny day when my parents (in South East SD) will have a cloudy day, or vice versa. Oddly while we are never as warm as the rest of San Diego, we are also never as cold and don’t have the risk of frost on our more delicate tropical tree varieties. But we don’t get enough heat here to convert sugars well enough to get some of the fun stuff going- like blood oranges or Cara Cara. We also have a ton of salt in our marine layer that blankets us every morning. The soil takes a lot of work and additives to make the right kind of soil for these trees.

          We don’t have chickens, but a few neighbors here do, as well as rabbits which they have specifically for the organic fertilizer for their gardens. My babies would love if we had either, but we settle on visiting the neighbors’ pets. I have a huge deep emerald green Marathon II lawn in front and back that I work even harder on maintaining than we do the trees. My big deterring force from the chickens has been a fear of what they would do to my lawn. We have a 100lb ridgeback, but he is trained not to use the lawn. This past week a girl scout came by selling cookies and while I purchased some, another neighbor walking by (with her dog) stepped into my yard to buy cookies as well. Yup, this week my perfect green lawn has a nice 10″ burn mark right on the front. Gah! I want to cry every time I walk past.

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            The microclimates are stunning… I have noticed significant differences in different parts of my yard-growing a lush fern garden on the north side of the house and a cactus desert section on a south slope. So sorry to hear about the unwanted grass burn. so sad.

  13. It’s great to see this forum active again. Since we last chatted, I visited mimosa nursery in la and picked up a few young atemoya along with a star fruit to my collection. I do envy you guys with all those mature trees. Can’t wait to see these guys grow. Dr. Osborne, I must’ve watched your atemoya tasting video at lest 10 times (came across it on YouTube when I search atemoya, the one you had your parents in law in it). Love to see more of these, especially the tree with fruits on it. Love to see from Greg and Carolyn too if you guys have any videos of your tree.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Bob.
      Thanks for the note!
      That’s great to hear that you liked the videos so much.
      That is the type of feedback that will motivate me to do some more videos.
      Thanks!

  14. Im sure not just myself but other would love to see your videos showing us how to pollinate, seeing your mature atemoya tree, when to add fertilizer, which fertilizer to buy, when to prune, how much to prune, etc…

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thanks Bob!
      I will try to carve out some time to get you some more videos.
      Great to hear that they are helpful.
      Best,
      Tom

  15. Thanks so much Dr. Osborne. Looking forward to see them. The one I’m looking forward see the most is a tour of your garden :).

  16. Dr Osborne,

    Can I get your email to share with you a picture of my two atemoya fruits on my tree done by hand pollination? I want to get your expert opinion to see if it’s ready for picking. I read it might not ripe at all if pick too early. Thanks

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Bob
      It has been a busy week at work but I havent forgotten about you.
      If you allow me to post your pictures to the article, that may help.
      It might also help others.
      I just would like your permission before I do that.
      I will also work on a video for you perhaps early next week.
      Best,
      Tom

    • Bob,
      African Pride atemoya fruits are ready when they show some yellowing on the skin and when the fruits are slightly sticky when holding in your hand. If they start to crack, harvest immediately. Make sure you sit them out on the counter until they give like a ripe avocado (usually 1-2 weeks). Too soon and they will not be good. Also, I like to refrigerate them for a few hours before I eat them.
      This time of year they are definitely ready unless your tree is way out of whack.

      • Thomas Osborne, MD

        I agree with Greg.. and I will add a few additional insights.

        Sometimes the change on color of fruit from green to the ripe yellow green is hard to detect.

        Other things that help you to know it is time to pick:
        + The bumps on the skin of the fruit tend to flatten out.
        + The fruit will easily pull off from the stem.
        + The fruit often will soften on the tree-I use this indicator all the time b/c I dont want to pick too early and waste the fruit. The fruit seems to be sweeter this way too. However, you have to watch out because the fruit can quickly over ripen at this stage and it is a prime target for squires when soft-and ready on the tree.

        I will still try to work on a video about this topic for you next week.

        Best,
        Tom

  17. Thanks Greg and dr Osborne. Please feel free to share the pic I sent to you.

  18. I took your advice. Just picked the top one today. Put it with my rice storage box in a dark place. Will check on it on Wednesday to see if it’s ready. Hopefully it’ll be delicious as I anticipate.

  19. I picked it on Sunday. It’s now Thursday night and the fruit is pretty much the same as the first day.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Bob
      Sorry to hear that.
      This is not a perfect science and takes some hands on experience.
      I tend to err on the side of waiting longer. I usually wait til the fruit is softening slightly on the tree before I pick… But this is also a bit risky.
      That being said, you still may be ok if you leave the fruit in a dry cool place.
      Good luck.

      • Hey Bob,
        Leave it on the counter. Sometimes, just like avocados they take a while to soften. As long as it doesn’t turn black, it will ripen (and be fantastic).

        Greg

  20. Unfortunately, the fruit turned black after 2 weeks :(. I’ll keep the other one on the tree longer. Hopefully I’ll be able to enjoy at lest one fruit this season from my own tree. After speaking to a few friends here in San diego, they were able to harvest about 3 times a year. One friend has about 100+ fruits between 1-3 pounds on his tree now. Amazing!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Sorry to hear that Bob.

      Regarding the last fruit left hanging on your tree… look for those ripening signs I mentioned and you should be in good shape.

      Best ripening sign for me:
      1.
      The most surefire sign for me is that the fruit gets slightly soft to touch when still hanging on the tree.
      However, its easy to miss the short window in this situation and sometimes the fruit will fall off the tree on its own if you wait too long.
      This has happened to me a few times, and if I am lucky and get to the fruit on the ground early, the fruit is still good (but not always).
      I wouldn’t recommend waiting for the fruit to fall off the tree on its own though.

      Other signs, in order of reliability for me:

      2.
      The branch connection to the fruit starts to separate (the edged of the branch-fruit connection).

      3.
      The fruit gets slightly lighter/more yellow in color.

      4.
      And sometimes the bumps on the surface of the fruit get flatter-but not always.

      Huge crop:
      And yes, this has been a bumper crop for me this year too.
      They just keep fruiting and fruiting.
      Very amazing.

      Good luck!

  21. Hi Dr. Osborne,
    My atemoya had born fruits for 2 seasons ( With manual pollination). Last year however, although it had lots of flowers, and I did the artificial pollination exactly as before,it gave no fruits. This year I had pollinate 3 flowers with new pollen, all three were unsuccessful. Do you have any idea what’s wrong?
    Thanks,
    Mai

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Mai
      Thanks for the note
      Sorry to hear about your lack of atemoya fruit this year.

      There are a lot of factors that go into this, so it is difficult to say what happened in your case.
      So yea, pollination is one critical component.
      As you may know there is also an optimal way to pollinate these plants and it is dependent on the time of day and particular configuration of the flower.
      Happy to fill you in further about this if you have questions.

      However, there are other important factors such as the right amount of heat, sun, water, etc.

      T

  22. Hello Dr. Osborne!

    How you’ve been? I hope that all is well with your family. Well it’s been awhile since I visited your blog. My atemoya has grown since last year but I noticed that it’s losing leaves. They turned yellow first then starts to fall off, but not all. The branches looks good though and so as the main trunk. Is this normal? Respectfully requesting your advice. Thank you sir!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Joey
      Thanks for the question.

      Atemoya are ‘semi-deciduous’… meaning they loose some of their leaves in the cooler winter months.
      In my experience they loose about 1/2 to 2/3 of their leaves at the peak of leaf loss.
      Many of the remaining leaves turn a bit yellow and brown-esp at the tips.
      Then in the spring, there is a new flush of nice green leaves and the rest of the old leaves fall off.
      If this is what you have noticed then it is normal.

      Best,
      Tom

  23. Hello Dr. Osborne,

    I hope that all is well with you. My atemoya (African Pride) is in it’s second year and looking good. The branches are about four feet and some new leaves are finally sprouting. I got excited because I noticed two flowers sprouting too. Should I let them grow and see if it developes to a fruit? What I did last year was followed your advice plucking out a couple of flowers to let the tree established itself. Will an atemoya tree produced fruits in it’s second year? Please adise. Thank you.

    Joey

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Joey
      Thanks for your note.

      Great to hear your Atemoya is doing so well!
      Good job at plucking flowers the first year to help it establish itself.
      That first year is the most important.

      I didnt pluck any flowers off my trees in the second year after planting.
      However, lots of flowers just fell off on their own.
      This is not uncommon for a young plant of any kind.
      Heck lots of flowers on mature plants will just fall off too.
      So dont get too alarmed if your young tree does this.

      That being said, I did get some fruit in the second year from two trees planted right next to each other (about 4 or 5 foot tall trees).
      So to answer your question… perhaps you will get fruit in the second year after planting. But perhaps not, its still early.
      Third year got lots of fruit, etc.

      • Hello Dr. Osborne,

        Thank you so much for the information. I meant to buy another one to plant next to the one I have but the vendor now priced it at $100 from $50 last year. I guessed it’s gotten popular.

        Joey

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Dang, that is a big price jump!
          How close are you to San Diego?
          I know some places around here that may be selling at a more realistic price.
          T

  24. Where can I buy atemoya in San Diego Tom? Can I get their contacts from you? Thanks

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Joe
      There are a lot of small and little-known nurseries in the San Diego area.
      I am sure that I dont know half of them.
      However, there are some places that I do at least sometimes carry Atemoya.
      I will list them below.
      (Just call before you go to be sure they have it on stock at a good price).

      Ong Nursery:
      This place seems to have a specific interest in Atemoya and Cherymoya.
      The also owner seems to really know his stuff about tropical fruiting plants.
      However, this is not a typical nursery. It is basically a home.
      Family is from SE Asia. Very nice people, but can be a bit of a language barrier depending on who you talk to.
      Every inch of the small family property is packed with fruiting plants for sale.
      Home is in a transitional neighborhood but seems very safe.
      Only open for business on weekends.
      http://www.ongnursery.com/

      California Tropical Fruit Tree Nursery
      Large well organized property.
      Run more like a typical nursery.
      Prices on the high side.
      Can be tricky to find the nursery from the main road.
      http://www.tropicalfruittrees.com/

      Exotica:
      This place is a little like stepping back in time to the 1960s… at least last time I was there.
      They have lots of hard to find fruit trees. Hard to find there too bc the nursery is a bit unorganized and can be hard to find someone to help you.
      It can also be a bit of a jungle in there and some trees may be a bit light, nutrient, and water starved.
      http://www.yelp.com/biz/exotica-rare-fruit-nursery-vista

      Bonita Creek Nursery:
      I recently heard about this place but haven been there yet.
      Picture on their website shows they have atamoya or cherymoya… among other things
      Looks like only open on weekends.
      http://www.bonitafruittrees.com/

      • Allen Peterson, RN

        Although PapayaTreeNursery happens to be quite a distance from San Diego, the owner Alex has grafted over 9 varieties of Cherimoyas onto a single cultivar. His nursery is located in Granada hills also happens to be his backyard. If anybody happens to find there way near that area, call Alex ahead of time to schedule a visit to his beautiful nursery. Alex specializes in rare tropical fruits. He also sells many different types of Cherimoys that thrive well in Southern California.

        Here is the website:

        http://papayatreenursery.com

        (818)-363-3680

  25. Hello Dr. Osborne,

    I hope that all is well with you. I am back for a question in regards to my atemoya tree. This is the second year and I got so excited during this spring and summer. My tree (African Pride) produced a lot of flowers. There were probably 15 of them. Tree looks healthy with good leaves. I got disappointed though because the flowers did not turned into fruits. Is this normal or there is something I need to do. Please advice me of anyhing I could do for next time. Thank you sir!

    Joey

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Joey
      Welcome back.
      Remind me… did you try to hand pollinate and/or do you have more than one tree nearby?
      Thanks, T

      • Hello Dr. Osborne,
        Neither one. What do you recommend? Thank you!

        Joey

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hey Joey

          Glad I asked.
          Atemoya (and cherimoya for that matter), often need some help with pollination.
          So that’s the good news for you… it could just be that you need to help them with pollination.
          Therefore, the issue may not have anything to do with the health of your tree.

          Heres the big picture:
          Atemoya flowers are rather unique and may be pollinated by some specialized bug/beetle in their native lands that is not found around here.
          Therefore, pollination rates can be low unless you somehow help things along.

          The two things I mentioned in my last note are two great ways to help with pollination.
          (Hand pollination and having two trees close together)

          Hand pollinate them yourself:
          The flowers open in such a way to only reveal male or female parts during different times of the day (this is outlined in the article)
          The timing of the flower opening is critical for your pollination strategy.

          Laissez-faire strategy:
          Planting two trees close to each other also seems benefit pollination.
          It could be that the two plants flowers are just out of sync enough to allow wind pollination… but that theory is up for debate.
          Regardless, this works very well for me and I usually have more than enough fruit from two medium sized trees.

          Good luck,
          Tom

  26. Hi Dr Osborne,

    It’s been awhile. I hope you had a good harvest season in 2015. My tree is definitely wack for sure. All fruits are still at golf ball to tennis ball sizes from my August/September hand pollination. Maybe because I hand pollinate it too late in the season. One question for you, have you try other varieties such as Lisa, lindstrom, geffner, phet pak chong, Na dai, mr Minh, etc.. How’s it compare to African pride? What’s your favorite? For those who has tried these, please share your input as well. Thanks

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Interesting Bob
      I only have 2 adult African Pride Atemoya that have produced big every year.
      (I also have some seedlings growing from those plants that are about two feet tall at the moment, but the seedlings are still too young to fruit yet).

      The pollination thing could definitely be an issue. However, as far as I know, incomplete pollination typically results in misshapen fruit more than tiny fruit. But not having a co-pollinizer nearby could be an issue.
      I would therefore also be wondering about other things such as:
      Plant disease, water, sun, soil quality, gophers, relative youth of the tree, inadequate fertilization, etc)

      How does the rest of the tree look?

      Best,
      Tom

    • Carolyn Apostolides

      I have two varieties that we brought over from Lebanon this summer. They’re still young but growing well. The leaves of each are different from each other and also different from my African Pride Atemoya. My lebanese in-laws swear that American Atemoya and Cherimoya are nothing like Lebanese “ashta” and turn their noses up at what’s available here. It will take a few years, but I will certainly update once these two varieties start producing. They are thriving thus far.

      • Thomas Osborne, MD

        Go Carolyn
        … And let the games begin!

        Most gardeners that I know (myself included) would say that nothing tastes better than the fruit grown you their own garden.
        But now.. Now there is our national pride on the line here as well.

        Ironically, our most popular American representative in this featured competition is a fruit called African Pride Atemoya.
        All of this is even more compelling considering that the Atemoya and its parents are from South America.
        Oh well, I guess we will all be winners regardless of the outcome.

        So basically it sounds awesome!
        Looking forward to hearing about your progress in this interesting experiment.

        Thanks,
        Tom

  27. Dr Osborne,

    The fruits look beautiful, just still in the small size stage. Hopefully it’ll get to the full size by March or April. Last year, I kept the other fruit from the pic above with the cue stick to full size and got a 1.3lb for my first fruit from the tree. I hand pollinated again in August/September last year and got about 40 fruits to set but half of it dropped. Still have about 20 left hanging. The leaves look dried.
    Other than that, everything else are good.

    Carolyn- I looked up the word ashta. I means sugar Apple. Our African pride atemoya is a cross between that and cherimoya. The Na Dai is my favorite sugar Apple from my country but I felt in love with African pride when I tried it last year at Ong nursery. The taste is very similar. I can eat both all day long. I probably will prefer the ap more because it can get much bigger in size. I’ve heard of a 3-4 pounder AP vs most sugar Apple will get as big as a Fuji Apple.

    I’ll start to collect the rest of those other varieties to graft on to my cherimoya seedlings just so I can try it first hand. Will report back in a year or two on that experiment.

    • Is there a way to post photos of the plants? I wanted to show a pic of how different the leaves are on the 2 ashta trees. Thx!

      • Thomas Osborne, MD

        Hey Carolyn
        I have not figured out how to support posting of pictures on the comments section.
        However, if you have a social media site such as pinterest, twitter, etc, then it is easy to just provide the link
        T

      • Hello Carolyn,

        Hi my name is Eleazer, I hope you don’t mind. I am very interested on seeing some pictures of your Ashta trees. I have a couple of cherimoyas and lately was successful enough to graft Lisa atemoya onto it, and hopefully next year would have a chance to graft African Pride and other varieties onto it.

        Dr Osborne’s website is awesome!

        Thank you,
        Eleazer

        • Absolutely. I don’t think I am able to post photos here (unless someone can show me how?) but I am happy to email u photos of my 3 very different varieties if u provide an address. Congratulations on your grafting! I’ve mentioned this before, but Bonita Creek Nursery has all sorts of grafting projects going on with the atemoya/cherimoya as the owner is very passionate about this kind of tree. I’ve had family from Lebanon taste my African Pride and typical grocery store Cherimoyas and they scoff that it’s nothing like the true Lebanese Ashta. My two Ashta baby trees are thriving so hopefully I can provide feedback on the taste of the fruit soon. So far I have found all varieties delicious!

  28. Where do you buy your 15-15-15 firtilizer? I don’t see any at home depot. Thanks.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Jason

      Agree, this triple-15 stuff can be hard to find.
      I happen to have small agriculture-specialty store nearby me… and they will bring it out from behind the barn if you ask for it specifically.
      It’s kindof like a speakeasy.

      As a side, I have been trending toward using a mix of different fertilizers for all my fruit trees.
      Therefore, I now mix it up a bit; using different types of fertilizers on each tree… and usually with at least one dose a year of some sort of citrus micro-nutrients mixed in. I top it all off with some compost when I can get it, etc.
      Overall, it seems to be appreciated.

      However, if you are specifically looking for a balanced fertilizer, I just found this 20-20-20 fertilizer on Amazon.
      So the 20-20-20 runs a little “hotter” than the 15-15-15, but I would just use a bit less of it and it should be analogous.

      Best,
      Tom

  29. The grow more 20-20-20 I saw on Amazon said 1scoop =1 gal. How many scoop do you apply toward your mature tree and in which months of the year? One of my buddies said to apply it every 15 days. Since my tree is still carrying fruits, is it wise to apply this fertilizer? Thanks

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Bob
      I have not found any compelling -definitive info on fertilizing these plants.
      However, once established, I tend to feed them on a time scale which is much the same way I would feed my citrus.
      Another words, starting in late winter (around now) and ending in mid-summer.
      Each fertilization dose is smaller and the total feed is more spread out than citrus though.

  30. Hello,

    Do you know who I may contact to find out more information about Atemoya Fruit distribution and current Atemoya crops in California?

    Thank you kindly.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Casey
      Good question.
      Why do you ask?

      I dont know of any specific crop distribution resources myself… However, my sense is that farmers are experimenting with some limited crops throughout.
      I suspect the amount of farming will grow considering the high price per pound that you can get for the fruit and the relative ease of growing in some parts of California.
      Best,
      Tom

  31. Great article. I am currently trying to add more rare tropical fruit trees to my yard. The atemoya and sugar apple are a few I am starting with.

  32. Hi Dr Osborne
    I am Dorine from Mauritius,Indian Ocean.Thank you for your precious advise on atemoya. I have one atemoya tree in my backyard and this year we were able to get edible fruit. Over here our main problem is attack from fruit flies. Recently I went for a talk on pest control and I learnt a method to get rid of fruit flies or at least to reduce their population around fruit trees. Now I am going to put your advise in practice so that next year my atemoya trees produces lots of fruits.

    Now I want to discuss another matter of big concern for me and since you are a radiologist, I do hope you will be able to help me. My daughter is 11 years old and about two years back she was diagnosed with scoliosis. Actually her right shoulder is lower than the left one and her right hip is higher than the left one. We did a radio (of her vertebral colonne and feet too) which appeared on 4 films as here they cannot do it on one film. The radiologist’s report is:

    X-ray thoraco-lumbar spine,pelvis and lower limbs(AP view in erect position)

    Tilting of pelvis to L side due to asymmetry in length of lower limbs(R greater than Lby 1.3 cm)
    Mild compensatory tilting of lumbar spine to R side.
    Otherwise normal alignment of thoracic and lumbar vertebrae.
    No significant scoliosis nor rotation of vertebral bodies.
    Normal morphologic appearances of bony parts examined.
    No bony outgrowth nor focal lesion detected.
    Normal disc spaces, hip, knee and ankle joint spaces noted

    Now the doctor says we have to do another xray( telemetry of spine,lower limbs,angle de cobb) on one film,which is not possible here on our island. Otherwise it can be done in Reunion island which is a nearby country. Do you think it is really important to have the xray done on one film? By the way since she was 6 the doctor said she has genu valgum and since then she has been wearing special sole. She goes to the kinetherapist every two weeks and she has a list of exercises she has to do everyday which she finds boring. What do you think we should do? Thanking you for answering to my questions.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Dorine

      Sorry to hear about your daughter.
      In general, I try not to provide medical advice on the internet because there are so many factors that cannot be communicated through text alone.
      However, I will do my best to provide you with some general concepts that may help provide some additional perspective.

      Scoliosis:
      As you know scoliosis is the curvature of the spine. It can be caused by many factors; some known and some which are not known.

      xray for scoliosis:
      There are many things that you look for when you do an xray in this situation.
      The three most common reasons are:
      1. look for a potential cause of the scoliosis (such as a malformed vertebra) and other potential associated pathologies.
      2. Quantify the degree of curvature
      3. Follow up exam to measure the rate of change.

      Problems of severe scoliosis:
      Even if there are no immediate life-threatening causes of the scoliosis, it can still be a big problem.
      If not treated, scoliosis (esp in a younger person) can get worse over time.
      This can cause all sorts of problems beyond just disfigurement
      More importantly, really bad scoliosis can distort the configuration of the supporting structures.
      For example, when there is severe scoliosis, it causes other vertebra to tilt/twist as compensation, further worsening the situation. The shoulders (as in the case of your daughter) may be of different heights. If bad, this will also cause the hips to tilt, which then cause the legs to appear to be of different lengths. This can result in all sorts of hip, knee, ankle and foot joint problems. In addition, the alignment of ribs will distort which can reduce the size of the thoracic cavity and therefore reduce lung function. Abdominal organs can become compromised in a similar way.

      That’s why early intervention is important.
      This can be done with braces or surgical hardware (depending on severity and the regional availability of resources).

      You asked about the multiple xrays:
      The answer to your question is “it depends”
      If the different xrays were all done with the same rigid technique and magnification with adequate overlap, you can theoretically “stitch” the images together to create a complete view of the entire spine. As an example, imagine taking multiple photographs of a panoramic view. If you do it well, you can piece the pics together seamlessly and no one would know they are different pictures after you taped them together (or photoshoped them together).

      However, if things are a bit off, this can be very challenging. Since these xrays will be used to determine the degree of change on follow up, accuracy is really important.

      Cobb angle:
      The cob angle is just a way to measure the degree of tilt between different vertebra. Therefore, it is a way to determine the amount of curvature. It is basically simple geometry, but accuracy is dependent on the quality of the films. If different xrays are pieced together as the wrong angle, then the cobb angle will be inaccurate.

      You mentioned genu valgum:
      This is basically a condition where the knees point inward more than typical. This may or may not be related to the scoliosis. However, this is also an important issue to address as there may be corrective measures that could help prevent lifelong disability.

      If it was me:
      If it was me, I would go to a place that can do the proper evaluation. This will allow you to get the accurate info you need for followup monitoring regardless of the treatment path you choose. In addition, it is possible that the people who have experience with the better tools may also have more experience with the condition. Therefore, there may be important-additional items that others may pick up and associated treatment options that were not known for the specifics of her condition.

      Important age for treatment:
      She is at a very important age to have this addressed because once she stops growing the available options and efficacy of treatments diminish significantly.

      Best of luck,
      Tom

      • Hi Dr Osborne
        Thank you for answering my mail and for the precious information and advice. I am going to see how and when to do the proper xray.

        My atemoya has started flowering again and I am looking forward to get its delicious fruits. Do you think I have to give it more water now that it is flowering?

        Thanks again, we keep in touch
        Take care,Dorine

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Your very welcome Dorine
          Best of luck.

          Regarding your Atemoya.
          Good question. Watering during flowering and fruiting can have a big impact on a lot of plants. However, I have not adjusted my watering schedule during my Atemoya flowering so I am not personally sure if it makes a difference. One thing that I would caution is that these plants really need well draining soil. Constant damp conditions can be harmful. So if you want to up your watering just make sure that it doesnt get too wet and boggy. As a side, watering deep and infrequently is usually better than watering often and shallow.

          Best,
          Tom

  33. Dr Osborne,
    I just stumbled upon your very informative site. Thanks for all your information. We are new to growing attemoya. This year we have picked about a dozen fruits. None of which have developed much sugar. We have picked them when the skin of the fruit has turned from green to a light yellow. After letting them sit on the counter to ripen, the fruit does soften but there is not much taste. Also the seeds are soft. Can you give us some insight as to how we can increase the sugar content or taste? Also we have many fruits that are cracked. My guess is that there is uneven watering.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Val
      Thank you and your very welcome.

      Good question:
      When everything is optimal, Atemoya are ridiculously sweet… Almost too sweet.

      As you alluded to, picking at the right time is key to tasty fruit but difficult to get right.
      Pick too early and they never taste good no matter how long you try to ripen them in the kitchen.

      Determining the right time to pick them has been a game of trial and error for me.
      The various signs of atemoya fruit ripeness are fairly subtle.
      The flattening of the bumps on the fruit does not seem to be as good of an indicator for me.
      The subtle color changes of the atemoya fruit from green to yellowish green is pretty subtle in my opinion.

      However, the best indicator for me has been that the fruit becomes subtly soft to touch-pressure while it hangs on the tree.
      Also; the stem starting to pull away from the fruit is also a good sign that things are about ready.

      Sometimes, I miss these indicators and the fruit falls off on its own.
      When this happens, the fruit may or may not be overripe.
      … but regardless, at this point it becomes “game on” with the squirrels to see who can get to the fallen fruit first.

      Hope this helps,
      Tom

  34. Phet Pakchong, Petchong,… Atemoya variety,… do you know anyone growing that, so I can get (gladly pay for) scion to graft with (onto Cherimoya)? Ong Nursery isn’t available in this regard.
    Thanks

  35. What great information on this strange fruit. I absolutely loved the video also. I truly enjoy funding and researching edible plants so I thank you for this.

  36. Hello Dr. Osborne,
    I have 4 Cherimoya and 1 Atemoya..all have plenty of fruits this year (hard work pays-off during pollination).
    Can I apply organic fertilizer during fruiting stage. I live in San Diego as well.

    Thank you,
    Tony C.

  37. Hello Dr. Osborne

    I am in San Diego. I bought a Atemoya tree October 2016 and planted it in March 2017. After that the tree grows well with a lot of new green leaves and flowers. I did deep watering 2-3 times a week depend on weather. Currently my tree has 5 smalls fruits as peas size. Everything was fine until 5-6 weeks ago, I started to see flowers were not bloom as usual. All of flowers are growing normal, got big and turn gray, die before it can bloom. I thought I did over watering so I decrease watering one a week for 2 weeks but it did not help and the tree seemed having water stress so I am watering twice a week now. Leaves are green, fruits are growing, new leaves and news flowers are still coming out but flowers are not bloom. They are continue turn grey and die. Would you, please, let me know what I did wrong. Thanks for your help and your time.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Helene
      Great question.

      If you have healthy growth than that is a great sign that overall you are doing the right things.

      Hard to tell the definite cause of your flower problem without being there. However, the first two thought I have are below:

      1.
      One option is that the flowers did not get pollinated and they are just falling off because there is no fruit to form. These plants have very subtle flowers so they may be opening without you noticing. There is a small window to hand fertilize if that is a strategy.

      2.
      Another option is the timing of fertilization. Fertilizing some plants during flowering can cause flowers to drop when the plant switches gears into growth mode. This tends to happen with high doses of nitrogen weighted fertilizers.

      Best,
      Tom

      • Hello Dr. Osborne,

        Yes, you are right. Now I remembered I did fertilize around that time. After that flowers have been turned dry, hard, grey and died without blooming. My fertilizer is Kellogg organic plus 4-5-4. Is there any ways I can do to lower dose of nitrogen for my tree? Thank you for taking your time to answer my questions.

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hi Helen

          Fertilization can be a tricky art. The specific plant, soil, and weather conditions all play an important part in determining the optimal formula (that is one of the reasons why some advocate soil testing).

          As you know, these essential elements in fertilizer are critical to gardening success. However, like anything, its a balance. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

          Organic fertilizer (such as this highly rated organic fertilizer on amazon) tend to be more forgiving… but more expensive.

          An overall strategy:
          In general, I aim to apply fertilizers with more nitrogen in the growing season.
          Then shift to fertilizers with more phosphorus and potassium in the blooming and fruiting season (respectively).

          Reference info:
          You may have noticed 3 numbers on a bag of fertilizer such at 10-20-10 or 10-10-10. Those numbers represent the relative concentrations of 3 main ingredients in fertilizers (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium) in that order. They are essential to plant nutrition and these components are often lacking typical soils.

          These essential components do a lot of things. However, below is a very abbreviated and simplified summary.

          (N) Nitrogen = Green leafy growth.
          (P) Phosphorus = Promotes blooming and root growth.
          (K) Potassium = Sometimes referred to as a “Quality element” b/c promotes general plant health as well as improves shape, color, taste of crops. Also essential to the development of flowers and fruits.

          There are lots of other micro-nutrients that are often considered (more important for other plants like citrus).

          Best,
          Tom

  38. Hello Dr. Osborne,

    These are very helpful information, it is a guideline for me to correct the flowers problem for my tree. I will email update when my tree has any improvement. Thanks for your help and your reference information.

    Helene

  39. Hello Dr. Osborne

    I have a cherimoya tree that’s about 3-4 years old, the trunk is about 1.5” in diameter, 3.5’ tall, 4’ in diameter of bush/drip line. It had a lot of flowers and I successfully hand pollinated to get about 10 fruits. They’re still small and green, the biggest fruit is about the size of a big lemon. However, I have too much dirt around the tree forming a little hill against the blocked wall so I want to remove extra dirt to make the ground flat for easier irrigation. In addition I don’t see a lot of growth in height or size of the tree so I digged out extra dirt around its base hoping I can also loosen the soil. The dirt seemed very moist and healthy. However, I found some long roots that I thought was not from this tree and suspect it’s either from the neighbor’s orange tree right behind our tree. So I started cutting it off but half suspecting that this root system could have been from my cherimoya tree also. I’m worried that I might have killed my very healthy tree. Do you have any information on the root system for cherimoya tree? especially how it looks or feels like or size compared to its trunk or overall size?

    Btw, the roots I digged up was about 3/4” in diameter, about 1/2’ into the soil.

    Thanks

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Kristina
      Thanks for the question.

      The best way for you to know what your tree’s roots ‘look and feel’ like is to start at the trunk and follow a superficial root a bit.

      However, for you it sounds like that it would not make a difference for your major concern… and that is the health of your tree after a potential root cutting.

      Heres the good news,
      Established plants can tolerate their roots being cut, esp in the cooler season. Not that you would want to do it more than necessary, but there is a lot of redundancy in a plants root system.

      Next steps:
      If I was concerned about a large amt of root damage, I would give it a good watering and watch. Keep an eye on your plant and water as necessary if there are signs of water stress. But again, if you are going to cut the roots, this is a good time of year to do it (at least in the Northern hemisphere)… because these trees are semi deciduous and need much less water in the winter.

      Not sure how close the neighbors citrus tree is, but if it is a few yards away, I woundnt worry too much about it.

      Best,
      Tom

      • Hi Dr again,

        I tried ti follow the roots around the trunk and on the surface, it’s very hairy/fibrous so hopefully I didn’t cut my tree roots.

        I have another cherimoya tree, about 10 years old, matured. I’d like to prune it back more because the leaves are more towards the outside tips of the canopy. There’re long sections of empty scaffolding branches that I wish there are more branches closer to the trunk so that I can get more bigger branches hence increasing fruit size. I’d like to know if I can cut back these scaffolding branches without hurting the tree or kill the branches altogether. I’ve seen where the branches just became dead dry after I cut them.
        Also when’s the best time to cut these back? can I do so while I still have fruits on the tree?

        Thanks

        • Yes, not normally a problem to the trees health to do reasonable cutting back. Use your good judgement, or hire someone such as myself.
          Structural pruning can be done any time, although main pruning time is typically best in spring, which is cherimoyas normal deciduous time; pruning being done as a foundation to grow from.
          Branch die off is random, not normally a problem issue.

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