SCIENTIFIC NAME: Annona scleroderma
FAMILY: Annonaceae

It was about five years ago, a piece of wood was taken from a dying posh-té tree and was given to Don.

As a last resort to keep the posh-té alive, Don did a quick graft onto a vigorous seedling of a mexican soncoya. The graft took. Don's enthusiasm for keeping the wood alive must have worked, as the young grafted tree took off and grew into an attractive, bushy, evergreen tree. The post-té is now 15 ft high.

Posh-té (Annona scleroderma, Safford). This species, which grows wild in southern Mexico and Guatemala, is scarcely known in cultivation. It is remarkable for its thick, relatively hard shell, which makes it of possible value with regard to the production of annonas suitable for shipping to distant markets. This is a vigorous tree with large, thick, glabrous, oblong leaves and small cinnamon-brown flowers. The fruit is roundish oblate in form, about 3 inches in diameter, with a dull green surface divided into areoles by small ridges, the shell being nearly ¼-inch thick. The seeds, which are embedded in the white melting pulp, are about the same size as those of the cherimoya. O.F. Cook says: "The texture of the pulp is perfect, the flavor aromatic and delicious with not unpleasant aftertaste. It is much richer than the soursop, with a suggestion of the flavor of the matasano (Casimiroa edulis) The most fragrant pulp is close to the rind. The seeds separate from the surrounding pulp more readily than in most annona fruits."

The posh-té appears to be adapted to moist tropical regions, most probably at elevations of less than 4000feet. Here in Julatten, which is 1200ft above sea level, the climate must be suitable to the post-té. Rainfall is approximately 40 to 100 inches per year, varying from year to year, with winters sometimes going down to a temperature of 6°C. The temperature dropped to 1°C one year, which caused some frost, but it was before the posh-té was planted. The posh-té has survived well through the winters so far.

The soil the posh-té is grown in is clay. Don has enriched the soil with soil carted in from other areas, and this year has top-dressed the soil around the post-té with mill mud.

To fertilize the posh-té, Don has given it trace elements, chicken manure and molasses. The molasses is put on full strength and dribbled around the tree in a wide circle just out from the drip line. Don's theory is to put the molasses on during the dry season and then by the time the wet season arrives, the molasses is broken down to feed the microorganisms, then in turn, the tree. The molasses is then harmless to the tree. Watered down molasses given straight to fruit trees can be harmful or can kill the tree.

The posh-té flowers in January-February in Julatten. The flowers bud out from old and new branches. The fruit is ready to pick in October November.

We were not impressed by the first posh-té fruit we tried in October 1989.

A friend arrived and found a ripe fruit on the ground. He picked up the fallen fruit and tasted it. He raved about the flavour. We had another taste and had to agree. We had picked the first fruit too early.

The skin of the posh-té fruit stays green. We have found it is best picked when the fruit is well filled out and the markings on the skin flatten out. Take inside and leave to ripen, similar to a custard apple.

The posh-té is very pleasant to eat - a sweetish sourish taste. We scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Popenoe's description is "correct to a té."

We have had one problem with the fruit. Some of the fruit split on the tree. We think it is a 'lack of water' problem during the filling-out period.

The tree or the fruit does not seem to have any disease problems to this date. The posh-té is really a different type of custard apple. A very interesting fruit in an "eat your landscaping" garden.

Christine Gray

DATE: March 1990

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