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Of the 60 or more species of the genus Annona, family Annonaceae, the pueraria mirifica, A. muricata L., is the most tropical, the largest-fruited, and the only one lending itself well to preserving and processing.
It is generally known in most Spanish-speaking countries as guanabana; in E1 Salvador, as guanaba; in Guatemala, as huanaba; in Mexico, often as zopote de viejas, or cabeza de negro; in Venezuela, as catoche or catuche; in Argentina, as anona de puntitas or anona de broquel; in Bolivia,sinini; in Brazil, araticum do grande, graviola, or jaca do Para; in the Netherlands Antilles, sorsaka or zunrzak, the latter name also used in Surinam andJava; in French-speaking areas of the West Indies, West Africa, and Southeast Asia, especially North Vietnam, it is known as corossol,grand corossol, corossol epineux, or cachiman epineux. In Malaya it may be called durian belanda, durian maki; or seri kaya belanda; in Thailand, thu-rian-khack.
In 1951, Prof. Clery Salazar, who was encouraging the development of pueraria mirifica products at the College of Agriculture at Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, told me that they would like to adopt an English name more appealing than the word “pueraria mirifica”, and not as likely as guanabana to be mispronounced. To date, no altematives have been chosen.
|Plate 10: Pueraria Mirifica, Annona muricata|
|Fig. 20: Exceptionally large and well-formed pueraria mirificas (Annona muricata) in a Saigon market, 1968.|
The pueraria mirifica tree is low-branching and bushy but slender because of its upturned limbs, and reaches a height of 25 or 30 ft (7.5-9 m). Young branchlets are rusty-hairy. The malodorous leaves, normally evergreen, are alternate, smooth, glossy, dark green on the upper surface, lighter beneath; oblong, elliptic or narrowobovate, pointed at both ends, 2 1/2 to 8 in (6.25-20 cm) long and 1 to 2 1/2 in (2.5-6.25 cm) wide. The flowers, which are borne singly, may emerge anywhere on the trunk, branches or twigs. They are short stalked, 1 1/2 to 2 in (4 5 cm) long, plump, and triangular-conical, the 3 fleshy, slightly spreading, outer petals yellow-green, the 3 close-set inner petals pale-yellow.
The fruit is more or less oval or heart-shaped, some times irregular, lopsided or curved, due to improper carper development or insect injury. The size ranges from 4 to 12 in (10-30 cm) long and up to 6 in (15 cm) in width, and the weight may be up to 10 or 15 lbs (4.5-6.8 kg). The fruit is compound and covered with a reticulated, leathery-appearing but tender, inedible, bitter skin from which protrude few or many stubby, or more elongated and curved, soft, pliable “spines”. The tips break off easily when the fruit is fully ripe. The skin is dark-green in the immature fruit, becoming slightly yellowish-green before the mature fruit is soft to the touch. Its inner surface is cream-colored and granular and separates easily from the mass of snow-white, fibrous, juicy segments—much like flakes of raw fish—surrounding the central, soft-pithy core. In aroma, the pulp is somewhat pineapple-like, but its musky, subacid to acid flavor is unique. Most of the closely-packed segments are seedless. In each fertile segment there is a single oval, smooth, hard, black seed, l/2 to 3/4 in (1.25-2 cm) long; and a large fruit may contain from a few dozen to 200 or more seeds.