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What is a guanabana tree?

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The guanabana tree is a low-branching, slender tree originating in Central America. Also known as the soursop tree, the guanabana produces oval fruit with a yellow-green skin and white, juicy flesh. The fruit is a popular ingredient in drinks, sherbet, preserves and sweets.

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Highly susceptible to frost, the guanabana tree does best in tropical regions, growing to a height of 20 to 30 feet. It flowers continuously in deep, rich, well-drained soil. The leaves of the tree are leathery and oblong, with a deep green, glossy top side that curves downward. The tree reaches maturity and begins to bear fruit on its trunk or branches in three to five years. The fruit can reach as much as 12 inches long and has an inedible, bitter, spiny skin with a granular, cream-colored pulp. Yielding only 12 to 24 fruits per tree, the guanabana faces a demand that often exceeds the supply.

Guanabana contains large amounts of vitamin C, along with thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, calcium and phosphorus. It is often recommended by practitioners of herbal medicine as a remedy for stomach pains, fever and respiratory problems. According to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, guanabana has several properties that have the potential to prevent or slow the growth of cancer.

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