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ntroduced Photo: S. Jeevith
Common name: Soursop, Graviola • Kannada: ಮುಳ್ಳುರಾಮಫಲ Mullu Ram Phal, ಲಕ್ಷ್ಮಣಫಲ Lakshman Phal
Botanical name: Annona muricata    Family: Annonaceae (Sugar-apple family)
Synonyms: Annona macrocarpa

Soursop is a shrub or small tree 3-10 meters in height. It is adapted to warm, humid tropical climate, and can tolerate both drought conditions and partial shade. It grows up to 25-30 ft. Young branchlets are rusty-hairy. The leaves, normally evergreen, are alternate, smooth, glossy, dark green on the upper surface, lighter beneath, oblong, elliptic or narrowobovate, pointed at both ends, 6-20 cm long and 2.5-6 cm wide. The flowers, borne singly, may emerge anywhere on the trunk, branches or twigs. They are short stalked, 4-5 cm long, plump, and triangular-conical, the 3 fleshy, slightly spreading, outer petals yellow-green, the 3 close-set inner petals pale-yellow. The fruit is more or less oval or heart-shaped, some times irregular, lopsided or curved, due to improper carper development or insect injury. The size ranges from 10-30 cm long and up to 15 cm in width, and the weight may be up to 4.5-6.8 kg. The fruit is compound and covered with a reticulated, leathery-appearing but tender, inedible, bitter skin from which protrude few or many stubby, or more elongated and curved, soft, pliable "spines". The tips break off easily when the fruit is fully ripe. The skin is dark-green in the immature fruit, becoming slightly yellowish-green before the mature fruit is soft to the touch. Its inner surface is cream-colored and granular and separates easily from the mass of snow-white, fibrous, juicy segments -- much like flakes of raw fish -- surrounding the central, soft-pithy core. In aroma, the pulp is somewhat pineapple-like, but its musky, subacid to acid flavor is unique. Soursop is native to South America, cultivated and naturalized widely.
Medicinal uses: The seeds, fruit, and leaves have been used traditionally for stomach complaints and fever, and as a sedative. Clinical trials are lacking to support these uses. The most widely used preparation in traditional medicine is the decoction of bark, root, seed or leaf and applications are varied. In Indonesia, the Caribbean islands and South Pacific countries, the leaves are used in bath to treat skin ailments, while in Mauritius, New Guinea and Ecuador the application of leaves is local on the pain site.

Identification credit: S. Jeevith Photographed in Tamil Nadu & Karnataka.

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