Cherimoya is a fleshy South American fruit known for its sweet flavor. However, it hides alternative uses and benefits.

Quick Facts
General Information
  • Common name(s)Chirimoya, cherimoya, cherimola
  • Scientific nameAnnona cherimola
  • Geographic distributionSouth American Andes
  • Plant typeTree
  • Native regionAndean Region
  • Main producer(s)Peru, Spain
  • Main Economic UseFood industry, Culinary

Cherimoya, or Annona cherimola, is a deciduous tree that typically grows to around 30 feet (9 m) in height. The cherimoya tree produces a sweet fruit that is packed with nutrients and is consumed around the world. However, there is much more to cherimoya than the pleasant flavor of its fruit: traditionally, cherimoya seeds and skin have been used to treat lice or as a remedy for pneumonia and respiratory diseases. With the advent of the 20th century and the rise of diseases of opulence, new research has found great potential for cherimoya, thanks to its antioxidant content and potential to work as an anti-cholesterol agent.

Medicinal and Nutritional Information

Quick Facts (Medicinal and Nutritional Information)
  • Medicinal actionHypocholesterolemic, Hypoglycemic
  • Key constituentsAnnocherine A, annocherine B, cherianoine, romucosine H, artabonatine B
  • Ways to useDecoctions, Food, Juiced, Tincture
  • Medicinal rating(2) Minorly useful plant
  • Safety rankingSafe

Health Benefits of Cherimoya

Although reliable, double-blind, placebo-controlled research on the medicinal uses of cherimoya is still lacking, the plant has been used with the following purposes as part of traditional practices, mostly limited to its native regions:

  • Decreasing cholesterol levels. Like many fruits, cherimoya can help to lower unhealthy cholesterol levels.

  • Lowering blood sugar levels. Cherimoya is beneficial for managing blood sugar levels, especially for individuals who need to lower their blood sugar levels.

In addition, cherimoya can help fight other conditions, such as:

  • Treating lice infestations and other parasitic skin ailments. Traditionally, the seeds of cherimoya have been peeled, toasted, and then made into a powder. When this is mixed with grease, it is used to treat lice. The traditional treatment for lice is also used on other parasitic skin ailments.

  • Reducing anxiety. Studies have shown that eating cherimoya can lower anxiety levels in some individuals.

  • Healing pneumonia. An extract from the skin of the fruit is used to treat pneumonia.

  • Combating bacterial infections. Cherimoya can treat bacterial infections, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs).

How It Works

Cherimoya has played a much more prominent role as a food than as a medicine, especially in Western countries. Because of this, there is still a lot of room for debate regarding its active compounds, although five unique alkaloids have been identified so far in the fruit's pulp: annocherine A, annocherine B, cherianoine, romucosine H, and artabonatine B. However, it is not fully understood how these compounds act in the body.

The nutritional value of cherimoya has long been known, and it is regarded as a good source of calcium, fiber, potassium, and vitamins A and C; cherimoya also contains trace amounts of vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B1 (thiamin), copper, and phosphorus.


Avocado and olive also possess hypocholesterolemic properties, while carambola and graviola can be used as alternative sources for hypoglycemic benefits as well.

Cherimoya Side Effects

Cherimoya is likely safe for people when eaten as a food. However, the seeds of cherimoya can be poisonous, and side effects include dilated pupils, sensitivity to light, nausea, dry mouth, a burning sensation in the throat, flatulence, and vomiting.


  • Individuals who are diabetic or have other conditions that require them to closely monitor their blood sugar levels should exercise caution when eating cherimoya since it can lower blood sugar levels.

  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult a physician before consuming cherimoya.

How to Consume Cherimoya

Quick Facts (How to Consume)
  • Edible partsFruit
  • Edible usesFlavoring, Beverage, Dairy substitute, Sweetener
  • TasteSweet

While it is often used for culinary purposes, the most effective way of obtaining cherimoya's health benefits is in its medicinal forms of consumption, where the properties are more concentrated.


Main preparations: Capsules, decoctions, liquid extract, powder, tinctures

  • Capsules. In capsule form, cherimoya's medicinal benefits include lowering blood sugar levels largely due to its hypoglycemic properties.

  • Decoctions. In this medicinal form, cherimoya decoctions lower blood sugar levels and treat anxiety due to its antianxiety properties.

  • Liquid extracts. In this form, cherimoya liquid extracts treat anxiety and treat bacterial infections.

  • Powder. In this form, cherimoya powder can be added to smoothies or other drinks for increased nutritional value. Some of its health benefits include lowering bad cholesterol levels and treating bacterial infections, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs) thanks to its antimicrobial properties.

  • Tinctures. In tincture form, cherimoya treats pneumonia, as well as bacterial infections due to its antimicrobial properties.


Main ways: Raw

In its raw state, cherimoya is not only delicious, it has significant health benefits, including lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels thanks to its hypoglycemic and hypocholesterolemic properties. The black seeds in cherimoya are also beneficial for mitigating lice infestations.



Quick Facts (Buying)
  • Where to buySupermarkets, Farmers' markets

Raw cherimoya is the most popular form of consumption, and the fruit can be found at most grocery stores in the produce section year round.

Cherimoya is also commonly processed into nectars, juice, wine, and ice cream, which are also typically available at most grocery stores.

Cherimoya supplements are available in extract and tablet form online and at some nutrition shops.


Quick Facts (Growing)
  • Life cyclePerennial
  • Harvested partsFruit
  • Light requirementsFull sun
  • SoilLoamy sand
  • Soil pH6.1 – 6.5 (Slightly acidic), 6.6 – 7.3 (Neutral), 7.4 – 7.8 (Slightly alkaline)
  • Growing habitatSubtropical regions
  • Plant spacing average7 m (22.97 ft)
  • Propagation techniquesCuttings
  • Potential diseasesPhytophthora spp., Root rot

Because cherimoya is a subtropical plant, it grows best in warm, humid conditions. Cherimoya trees begin bearing fruit three to four years after being planted, so those who wish to grow them will reap the benefits relatively quickly in comparison to other types of fruit. For additional tips for how to successfully grow a cherimoya tree, follow the guidelines below:

Growing Guidelines

  • Cherimoya grows best in neutral soils (pH level of 6.5 - 7.5), and prefers low temperature oscillations throughout the year.

  • Cherimoya trees should be grown in a sunny are with well-drained and loose soil, with a fairly steady water supply

  • If they are grown near a coastal area, cherimoya trees will need to be protected from the wind, since high winds can damage them relatively easily

  • They are best propagated through grafting, as this allows a more accurate control of the quality of future fruit, and the trees should ideally be kept 22 feet (7 m) apart from each other.

  • Fertilizing trees twice a year is recommended for optimal growth

  • Pollination will need to be done artificially, as natural pollinators are scarce, and male and female flowers rarely mature at the same time. Formation pruning can help speed up this process.

  • Cherimoya is prone to root rot and fruit fly infestations.

Additional Information

Plant Biology

The cherimoya tree is a fairly dense, fast-growing deciduous tree that can grow up to 30 feet (9 m) in height. The tree produces light-green flowers and heart-shaped, medium-sized fruit with dark green, scaly skin, and white, creamy flesh.

  • Classification

    Cherimoya, or Annona cherimola, is part of the Annonaceae family, with approximately 2,500 other species across 130 genera. The family includes mainly tropical plants, like graviola (Annona muricata) and ylang ylang (Cananga odorata), with few species, such as pawpaw (Asimina triloba), found in temperate regions. The name of the genus, Annona, is the Latin word for "year's harvest." 

  • Varieties and Cultivars of Cherimoya

    Although no subspecies exist, cherimoya cultivars has been developed through selective breeding in order to maximize yields, hardiness, or specific fruit qualities.

    In Peru, cherimoyas are commercially classed according to degree of surface irregularity, as: 'Lisa' (almost smooth), 'Impresa' (with "fingerprint" depressions), 'Umbonada', (rounded protrusions), 'Papilonado', or 'Tetilado' (fleshy, nipple-like protrusions), 'Tuberculada' (conical protrusions having wartlike tips).

    'Ott' cherimoyas are popular in the United States because of their relative hardiness and ability to survive inland, alongside the 'Deliciosa' cultivar - although the latter can achieve a higher market price because of its preferred flavor.

    On the other hand, cultivars such as 'Spain' or 'Ryerson' are sweeter and banana-like in flavor, although they require higher temperatures and coastal climates to grow. Other major cultivars include 'Bays', 'Chaffey', 'Pierce', 'White', and 'Bayott' cherimoyas.

Historical Information

The first depictions of cherimoya date back to 700 BCE, on pottery vases belonging to pre-Incan cultures, where it seems to have been regarded as sacred. Cherimoya was a highly valued fruit among the Incas, who used to refer to it as the "pearl of the Andes." The Spanish brought the fruit to different parts of the world, especially around the Mediterranean.

Classic American author Mark Twain was a fan of cherimoya and considered it “the most delicious fruit known to men.”

Economic Data

Cherimoya's popularity has spiked in recent years, as it is considered an "exotic" fruit in many countries. In North America and Japan, cherimoya costs more than almost any other market fruit. Advanced transportation methods and cherimoya hybrids have recently opened up the international trade industry for the fruit. Spain, Peru, and Chile are among of the top cherimoya producers.

Other Uses of Cherimoya

  • For Skin Care. Because of its high vitamin C content, cherimoya fruits are highly effective for skin care. It is used for reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, as well as combating free radicals.

  • For Hair Care. Cherimoya keeps helps maintain hair health and prevents damage from free radicals.


  • FAOSTAT, Promoting cultivation of cherimoya in Latin America
  • Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Evaluation of cholesterol absorption and biosynthesis by decoctions of Annona cherimola leaves, 2013
  • Phytochemistry, Four alkaloids from Annona cherimola, 2001
  • University of California, UC Cooperative Extension: Cherimoya
  • Lost Crops of the Incas, pp. 228-239
  • Fruits of Warm Climates, Cherimoya
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  • Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California. (2016). Cherimoya Retrieved on June 6, 2016 from
  • National Institutes of Health. (2013). Evaluation of cholesterol absorption and biosynthesis by decoctions of Annona cherimola leaves Retrieved on June 6, 2016 on
  • National Institutes of Health. (2011). Pharmacological Screening of Annona cherimola for Antihyperlipidemic Potential Retrieved on June 6, 2016 from
  • Food Research International. (2011). Evaluation of the antioxidant and cytoprotective properties of the exotic fruit Annona cherimola Mill. (Annonaceae) Retrieved on June 6, 2016 from
  • Journal of Ethnopharmacology. (2013). Evaluation of cholesterol absorption and biosynthesis by decoctions of Annona cherimola leaves Retrieved on June 6, 2016 from