1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Custard Apple

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CUSTARD[1] APPLE, a name applied to the fruit of various species of the genus Anona, natural order Anonaceae. The members of this genus are shrubs or small trees having alternate, exstipulate leaves, and flowers with three small sepals, six petals arranged in a double row and numerous stamens. The fruit of A. reticulata, the common custard apple, or “bullock's heart” of the West Indies, is dark brown in colour, and marked with depressions, which give it a quilted appearance; its pulp is reddish-yellow, sweetish and very soft (whence the name); the kernels of the seeds are said to be poisonous. The sour-sop is the fruit of A. muricata, native of the West Indies. The plant, which is a small tree, has become naturalized in some parts of India where it is extensively cultivated, as elsewhere in the tropics. It is covered with soft prickles,is of a light-greenish hue, and has a peculiar but agreeable sour taste, and a scent resembling that of black currants. The sweet-sop is produced by A. squamosa, also a native of the West Indies and widely cultivated in the tropics. It is known as the custard apple by Europeans in India. It is an egg-shaped fruit, with a thick rind and luscious pulp. An acrid principle, fatal to insects, is contained in its seeds, leaves and unripe fruits, which, powdered and mixed with the flour of gram (Cicer arietinum), are used to destroy vermin. A. Cherimolia yield the Peruvian cherimoyer, which is held to be a fruit of very superior flavour, and is much esteemed by the Creoles. A. palustris, alligator apple, or cork-wood, a native of South America and the West Indies, is valued for its wood, which serves the same purposes as cork; the fruit, commonly known as the alligator-apple, is not eaten, being reputed to contain a dangerous narcotic principle.


  1. The term “custard,” now given to a dish made with eggs beaten up with milk, &c., and either served in liquid form or baked to a stiff consistency, originally denoted a kind of open pie. It represents the older form “crustade,” Fr. croustade, Ital. crostata, from crostare, to encrust.