Family of the: Annonaceae
Common names: Soursop, guyabano, guanabano or guanabana
Scientific name: AnnonaMuricata
Places it grows:
AnnonaMuricata family of the custard apple is a tropical tree indigenous to the Caribbean, Central and South America. Some of the countries that produce the fruit without weather complications are: Brazil, Mexico, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the democratic Republic of Congo and other tropical African countries. The graviola enjoys loamy soils that are slightly acidic.
Soursop trees can withstand humid tropical weathers and droughts. They’re also enduring partial shade very well.
The guanabana grows on a plant that is considered a large shrub or a small tree. These trees can average about nine to ten meters in height and are evergreen. The soursop tree produces dark green, glossy, ovate leaves. Its fruit is known as the spiky custard apple as it possesses protuberances that resemble spikes. These “spikes” can be taken to assess the fruit’s ripeness. The softer these are and if they’ve fallen off the riper the fruit will be.
The soursop has a bright green color on the outside and white on the inside. In the inside of the fruit the pulp surrounds hard black seeds and the heart of the soursop, which is slightly coarser than the rest of the pulp. It isn’t recommended you eat the seeds but you can eat the heart of the guanabana.
The flower of the annonamuricata looks like a grotesque version of a lotus flower with three petals. The flower has three outer petals, which are pretty thick and lightly colored in a green tone. The flower also has an inner circle of three petals that are colored yellow. The button at the center of the flower becomes what we know as the soursop. The tree can actually bear its fruit straight on the trunk at times.
The soursop is a fruit that contains a high level of antioxidants. What this means if you’re not aware yet is, that when the levels of antioxidants are higher in foods the chances of getting cancer and reducing its growth, become slimmer and greater respectively. In simpler terms the soursop is one of the best foods that fight cancer.
People have taken it upon themselves to investigate the soursop in cancer research studies and it has been proven to help cancer patients considerably. Other parts of the plant that can be used to fend off cancer are the leaves of the plant when boiled into tea.
A serving of soursop can offer a person an array of vitamins and minerals such as Thiamine, riboflavin niacin and a vitamer we often confuse with vitamin C known as ascorbic acid. Minerals found in each serving include calcium, phosphorus and iron.
The graviola fruit is great to make a series of refreshing beverages. Its acidic sweetness makes it an excellent candidate for making sweets and candies. Some use it as a partial treatment for cancer but its effectiveness is yet to be proved. There are even some warnings about the consumption of the fruit suggesting it may worsen certain neurodegenerative diseases. Nonetheless the soursop can be eaten without any threat to your general health as the effects it has on neurodegenerative diseases is also as uncertain as the effects it has on cancer.
The fruit is should be specifically avoided if you have Parkinson’s disease. This is because of the presence of annonacin in the custard apple and the effects this specific chemical has on the dopamine neurons and the way it inhibits them from functioning.
This is not a way of waving off the effects it might have on your health, but considering that everybody’s body is different you can expect different effects from the fruit. Depending on its ripeness it can serve as an astringent and a diuretic when green and when ripe it can even aid cases of constipation. Some people even take the seeds of the plant to make essential oils and powders to fend of parasites and insects including lice.
Mashing up the leaves and applying them to areas affected by rheumatism and eczema have proven to be excellent analgesics. An infusion made from the leaves has also been proven to be a mild sedative and relaxes the person into sleep.
Family of the: Rubiaceae
Common name: Jagua, Genipapo, Huito
Scientific name: Genipa Americana
Places it grows:
It is native to the tropical areas of America. It specifically grows at the northern parts of South America, and the Caribbean. It reaches as far up as the south of Mexico. It enjoys flooded areas due to its deciduous nature. You’ll easily find it by rivers, in rainforests and even in swamp areas. During seasons with harsh lack of water the tree may even lose its leaves. So if your going to indulge on planting one of these around your house make sure it is in a moist area and rich with nutrients.
The tree can grow up to 30 meters in height but it is generally known to grow between 20 to 25 meters in height. The leaves are large and oblong with a glossy bright green color. The fruit is a mixture between round and elliptical in shape and it has what seems to be a course exterior. However, it isn’t as hard as it looks, the brown color it has to it is rather deceiving when it isn’t ripe.
A fun fact about the jagua’s fruit is that once it becomes ripe it won’t progress into a rotting phase. It will simply dry out. The fruit contains hundreds of dark seeds within the pulp and it is quite fleshy. A not so fun fact about the fruit is the case of bad breath you may get after consuming it. It is not really pleasant at all. The flowers of the plant come in clusters and vary in tone from white to yellow and are rather small.
This fruit contains a few minerals and vitamins and within the list we can include: iron and riboflavin. It is also an excellent antibacterial agent. You can also attribute to it astringent and even expectorant properties when found in teas. Other properties pertaining to the genipa Americana include its capacity to seal wounds, reduce inflammation and prevent hemorrhaging.
The fruit is generally eaten but can be used to make an array of things. For starters jagua juice is enjoyed in many parts of the Caribbean, of course as long as it is accompanied by a mouthwash session.
To make jagua juice you must cut it open and remove the seeds and the pulp and keep the fleshy part of the fruit. Then cut up the flesh into smaller divisions and place these in a container with water and sugar for a couple of hours. Some people even let it sit for a couple of days.
This fruit has excellent effect in people with liquid retention. The simple water of this fruit drank throughout the day will make you take urinating trips to the bathroom all day long. This is why this has to be taken with precaution.
People also make tea out of the fruit and leaves to help treat bronchitis and certain digestive ailments. Other people use the fruit to make sweets and jellies. Another use given to the genipa is that of making liquor. The process involves about a month of time some brandy, sugar and water. You let the fermented fruit marinate in the other ingredients and let it settle for that aforementioned month.
The dark natural ink produced by this fruit is also used to creat provisional skin tatus with no side effects.
Article by: Alain Gutiérrez