Foods Indigenous to the Western Hemisphere


Annona muricata

By Jeremy Trombley

Probably the most popular of the Annona species, guanábana can be found throughout northern South America and Central America in a variety of forms. It is also referred to as Soursop. Guanábana juice is commonly offered at restaurants throughout the region and the fruit itself is easily found at markets or street vendors.


The guanábana tree is tall and bushy with upturned branches. The fruit itself is oval or heart-shaped with small, pliable spines covering the skin. It can be up to 12 inches long and 6 inches wide and up to 15 pounds. The flesh is cream-white and composed of many segments which can be easily broken off. Each of these may contain a single brown seed which must be removed or spit out when consuming because they can be very toxic. The aroma of the fruit has been likened to pineapple, but the flavor is unique.

Origin and Distribution

Guanábana is native to northern South America, but it is cultivated throughout the tropical region of the Americas. It was one of the first fruit trees to make its way to the tropics of the Eastern Hemisphere, where it became established in India, Polynesia and South East Asia. However the fruit is not commonly found outside of these regions, and it is not popular in Europe or the United States.


The least acidic fruits are pealed and eaten out of hand. In some cases, the fruit is so juicy that it is more accurate to describe the consumption as drinking rather than eating. Indeed, guanábana juice is far more common than the fruit. To make the juice, the pulp is mixed with either water or milk and sweetened with sugar. Guanábana drink mixes are common throughout the tropical Americas and the Caribbean. The unique taste and aroma of the fruit make this drink a wonderful treat. Additionally, the fruit is used in a variety of confections including cakes, puddins, pies, custard and ice cream. In parts of Indonesia and Brazil, the immature fruit is used as a vegetable, either being boiled or fried.


Davidson, Alan. The Oxford Companion to Food 2nd Ed. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, USA, 2006.

Morton, Julia. Fruits of Warm Climates. Miami, FL: Julia F. Morton, 1987.