The atemoya, Annona ×atemoya, is a hybrid of two fruits – the sugar-apple (Annona squamosa) and the cherimoya (Annona cherimola) – which are both native to the American tropics. This fruit is popular in Taiwan where it is known as the "pineapple sugar-apple" (鳳梨釋迦) and is sometimes mistaken for a cross between the sugar-apple and the pineapple. In Cuba this fruit is called mamon, and in Venezuela chirimorinon. In Lebanon the fruit is called Achta and is used in many Lebanese desserts including ice cream.
An atemoya is normally heart-shaped or rounded, with pale-green, easily-bruised, bumpy skin. It is very juicy and smooth, with the white flesh tasting slightly sweet and a little tart, reminiscent of a piña colada. The taste also resembles vanilla from its sugar-apple parent. There are many inedible, toxic black seeds throughout the flesh of the atemoya. When ripe the fruit can be scooped out of the shell and eaten chilled.
Atemoya (Annona cherimola × squamosa) was developed by crossing cherimoya (Annona cherimola) with sugar apple (Annona squamosa).
The first cross was made in 1908 by one P.J. Wester, a horticulturist at the USDA’s Subtropical Laboratory in Miami.
The resulting fruits were of superior quality to the sugar apple and were given the name "Atemoya", a combination of "Ate", an old Mexican name for Sugar Apple, and "Moya" from Cherimoya.
Subsequently, in 1917, one Edward Simmons at Miami’s Plant Introduction Station successfully grew hybrids that survived a drop in temperature to 26.5ºF, showing Atemoya’s hardiness derived from one of its parents, the Cherimoya.
The Atemoya, like other Annona trees bears protogynous flowers that are hermaphroditic and self-pollination is rare. Therefore artificial, hand, pollination almost always guarantees superior quality fruits. Atemoyas are sometimes misshapen, underdeveloped on one side, as the result of inadequate pollination.
An Atemoya flower, in its female stage, opens between 2pm and 4pm and between 3pm and 5 pm on the following afternoon, the flower converts to its male stage.
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