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Orchard Trees of Rancho Los Cerritos: Cherimoya

Articles: Orchard Trees of Rancho Los Cerritos: Cherimoya

Flowers of cherimoya (Annona cherimola). Author’s photographs

Cherimoya (Annona cherimola) is a subtropical fruit, found primarily in the mountain valleys and plateaus of Ecuador and Peru, where it benefits from a hint of chill provided by the higher elevations. The name cherimoya is derived from a Quechua word (the common language of the Andes): chirimuya means “cold seeds,” alluding to the cooler elevation where the trees thrive.

Andean cultures used the fruit as food and medicine, as well as featuring it in their art. Sculptural pieces dating back to 1000 BC from the Cupisnique culture have been found intact in archeological excavations. The later Moche culture practiced agriculture as well as art, and they too found the intriguing fruit worthy of reproduction.

The sweet fruit was popular and spread south from Ecuador and as far north as Mexico, naturalizing in elevations between 3,000 to 6,000 feet. The fruit was introduced to Spain in 1757, and it became established in southern Spain, Italy, and Africa along with sundry islands along the way. Seeds were sent to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), where ...

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