SCIENTIFIC NAME: Rollinia deliciosa
FAMILY: Annonaceae

The Rollinia deliciosa, or more commonly, the Custard Apple of the Amazon, is one of the best fruits in the world; second only to the Quararibea cordata. It is a fruit about 10" long and 6" wide, a very rich yellow colour when ripe, with small, soft spines that turn black when fully mature.

Rollinias are native to the Amazon River regions of South America. In Iquitos, Peru, where I found the most and best fruits, they were prized possessions of only a few vendors in the markets, and even in these poor parts they were worth their weight.

The trees are fast-growing and can flower in 18 months to two years, as proven now in North Queensland. They flower just about all year round, and can have ripe fruit as well as young ones down to the size of a fingernail. The trees grow to about 20' on average, although I did see one on the banks of the Amazon in Tabatinga, Brazil, that was over 40' high. A beautiful sight to behold.

My first impression of the fruit was: "Wow! this tastes like lemon meringue pie." Not exactly like the pie, but of the same texture and consistency. I found the best time to eat the fruit was when they were ripe, but still firm. This is determined by lightly pressing the skin with the fingers; when they indent without bruising, they are perfect. The fruit contains on average 80 to 90 seeds, similar in size and shape to our already known Annona fruit.

Rollinias are proving to be a very successful tree in North Queensland. Already after two years there are some lucky people who will be eating their first fruit in the not-too-distant future. The trees are very adaptable to all types of soil and will grow in full sun or in shady positions. A small amount of organic compost on planting, and a couple of applications a year will produce a beautifully shaped and productive tree. They have a high water requirement and are doing well both on the coast and in the mountains. There shouldn't be a backyard with a bit of space without a Rollinia. One thing is for sure - they are a beautiful fruit and, as the name implies, taste delicious.

DATE: November 1980

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