The soursop (Spanish guanábana, Portuguese graviola), Annona muricata; syn. Annona sericea Dunal in Correia, M. P., (1984), Annona macrocarpa Wercklé, A. bonplandiana H.B. & K., A. cearensis Barb.Rodr., Guanabanus muricatus (L.) M.Gómez in Rain-tree) is a broadleaf flowering evergreen tree native to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and northern South America. Today, it is also grown in some areas of Southeast Asia. It is in the same genus as the cherimoya and the same family as the pawpaw. In most Spanish speaking countries it is commonly known as Guanábana. In the Philippines, it is known as guyabano.
The soursop is adapted to areas of high humidity and relatively warm winters, temperatures below 5 °C will cause damage to leaves and small branches, and temperatures below 3 °C can be fatal.
Comparisons of its flavour range from strawberry and pineapple mixed together to sour citrus flavour notes contrasting with an underlying creamy roundness of flavour reminiscent of coconut or banana. The fruit is somewhat difficult to eat, as the white interior pulp is studded with many large seeds, and pockets of soft flesh are bounded by fibrous membranes. The soursop is therefore usually juiced rather than eaten directly.
Away from its native area, there is some limited production as far north as southern Florida within USDA Zone 10; however these are mostly garden plantings for local consumption. It is also grown in parts of southeastern Asia. The soursop will reportedly fruit as a container specimen, even in temperate climates if protected from cool temperatures.
The flesh of the fruit consists of an edible white pulp and a core of undigestible black seeds. The species is the only member of the genus Annona that is suitable for processing and preservation. The sweet pulp is used to make juice as well as candies, sorbets, and ice cream flavorings.
In Mexico it is a common fruit often used for dessert as the only ingredient, or as an agua fresca beverage. Ice cream, and fruit bars made of soursop are also very popular. The seeds are normally left in the preparation, and removed while consuming.
Nutritionally, the fruit is high in carbohydrates, particularly fructose. The fruit also contains significant amounts of vitamin C, vitamin B1, and vitamin B2. The fruit, seeds, and leaves have a number of herbal medicinal uses among indigenous peoples of regions where the plant is common.
In the Caribbean it is believed that laying the leaves of the soursop on a bed below a sleeping person with a fever will break the fever by the next morning. Also, boiling the leaves and drinking may help induce sleep.
The tea, fruit, and juice are used medicinally to treat illness ranging from stomach ailments to worms.