Foods Indigenous to the Western Hemisphere


(Annona Atemoya)


The Atemoya is a cross between the sugar apple (Annona Squamosa) and the Cherimoya (Annona Cherimola).  It was first developed in 1908 by P.J. Wester of the USDA subtropical laboratory in Miami, Florida, and has since spread around the world as a valuable commercial crop.  It's name is a combination of the words “Ate,” which is an older mexican name for the sugar apple, and “Moya” from chirimoya.  Several varieties of the atemoya have been developed for cultivation around the world including: Page, Bradley, Mammoth, Island Beauty, African Pride (South Africa), Geffner (Israel), Cherimata and Finney (Egypt)

Description and Climate

The atemoya tree is fast growing, and may reach up to 9 meters in height.  It has large deciduous leaves and yellow flowers.  The fruit is heart-shaped, bumpy and very dense.  While the atemoya is only slightly larger than an apple, the fruit may weigh as much as 5 lbs.  The bumps are a result of the fused areoles which form the rind.  Its flesh is white and solid with several seeds distributed throughout, though there are significantly fewer seeds in the atemoya than are in its parent species.  As with other Annona species, these seeds contain several toxins and must be carefully removed before consumption. 

Although the atemoya is relatively hardy and tolerant of lower temperatures when compared to its parent species, it still requires a tropical or near-tropical climate.  Since its initial development many countries have adopted it as a commercial crop including: Brazil, Australia, Israel, and the Philippines.  A few independent horticulturists have successfully cultivated the atemoya in Florida, but few other regions of the United States are suitable.


The fruit may be consumed by cutting it in half and eating the flesh directly from the shell.  It may also be added to fruit salad or blended with other fruits to make a juice or frozen to make ice cream or sherbet.

Because the seeds contain toxins which have been associated with neurological degeneration, they should be removed before consuming, and care should be taken to avoid breaking or otherwise damaging them as the toxins may leach out into the fruit.  Some groups have found the crushed seeds of related species useful as a pesticide and for other similar applications.


Morton, Julia. “Atemoya.” Fruits of Warm Climates. Miami, FL: Julia F. Morton, 1987. 72-75. 28 Oct 2008 <>.