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Soncoya

Soncoya

I bought a couple of seeds of Soncoya (Annona Purpurea) just for the fun of growing a different annona and they sprouted in two weeks.

Has anyone had any experience with this tree/fruit?

For what I have read, the fruit is somewhat average tasting.

The following thread was started by RaCor on August 10, 2006 at 8:36 am PST


Soncoya and Araticum (Annona Crassiflora)

I have a few tiny Soncoya seedlings going, but have yet to taste the fruit. The Soncoya is fairly obscure in the annona world.

The reviews on the Soncoya are probably best described as mixed. It is typically criticized for its seediness, and scant flesh (kind of like the Chilean Cherimoyas that are now in our California grocery stores! I should know: I just ate one yesterday. Can you say scant flesh!?)

On the other hand, the Soncoya seems to stand alone from all other annonas, including the cherimoya, in the flavors that it presents. Fans of the flavor have called it a wonderful combination of mango, citrus and melon. Detractors have called it "carrotene", which reminds me of what some detractors of the famous Mallika mango (which must be bletted) have said about its flavor.

Reading between the lines, it would seem that the flavor of the Soncoya is anything but "average." It would seem that with a little bit of selective breeding, there is a lot of flavor potential locked up in this fruit that might be tapped.

Who knows? When your seedling finally fruits, it might be "the one." Fame and fortune will undoubtedly follow. Surely, in time, there will be a rough consensus among the cognescente that all that other stuff was illusory. That was a waste of time, kind of like a dog chasing its tail. For what? It was the Soncoya all along! Who knew?

Lastly, of course, the Soncoya's "spherical pincusion" appearance is quite dramatic, if not a bit dangerous. Do spikey fruits sell? Apparently they do, because that AWFUL orange "Kiwano" "horned melon" continues to be sold in the local grocery store here. Who buys that?! I will skip the easy jokes.

As for me, I like my little Soncoya seedlings, but than again, I have a weak spot for all annonas. My Soncoyas germinated very nicely, and are growing indoors at almost the same rate as my Annona Reticulatas, and much faster than a few token Squamosas which just not skyrocketting for me, as they are rumored to do in Portugal.

Actually...I am looking for a source of Annona Crassiflora (Araticum) seeds. Anyone have any leads? Abiu, I know you had a few seedlings of these pass away recently. :( If you have any leftover seeds, I would be interested!

Araticum sounds pretty interesting. It grows in the dry grasslands of Brazil, and seems to come in two types, a first type that is ridiculously delicious such that is hailed as a top annona, and a second type that is seedy, with scant flesh. Hmmmm....maybe those Chilean Cherimoyas were actually type two Araticums. Who knew?

The above followup was added by Paul on August 11, 2006 at 8:54 pm PST.


Annonas


Paul,

Email me offlist for a possible source for araticum seeds.

Regarding these more obscure Annonas, my experience has been quite negative. They seem to rather strict cultural requirements, compared to the more common Annonas. I have not tasted any of them so, I cannot judge them on that.

I had two small soncoyas seedlings that lasted just short of two years. They died of root rot in the winter. It seems they can handle some cold as long as the roots are dry, but they need warm nights (18+C/68+F) to grow consistently, so the growing season is rather short in my location. I plant to try them again,
but I will try to thread graft the seedlings as soon as possible.
What to use as a root stock is something that I have yet to decide.

I tried Annona Crassiflora (Araticum) and managed to germinate several seedlings. All of them died soon after. My weak explanation is that it is difficult to replicate the kind of soil and water they have in teir Cerrado habitat. The same has happened with my Duguetia lanceolata seedlings. I think both these species can handle quite a bit of cold, but other important
factors need to be addressed to have success with them.

Paul, try to give your A. squamosa plants as much sun and warmth you can and, then, keep them dry in the winter. They are
fast growers if the conditions are right.

My A. squamosa plants did very well the first couple of years. Since then, they have been struggling. For the sake of other plants, I had to change many procedures in the greenhouse and they did not like it. Too much shade and water. And, worst of all, they have become very pot bound, I expect to plant them in the ground in the coming weeks and I am hoping that will make them happier. Hopefully, by next spring they will have improved and be strong enough to produce fruits again.

I am now experiementing with grafting, which I believe may be the answer to overcome problems with soil and water quaility and root rot in the winter. Unfortunately, my grafting skills are
very basic and I still have a lot to learn (and practice).

The above followup was added by abiu(.pt) on August 12, 2006 at 7:49 am PST.


unknown socoya...

soncoyas can weight up to 4 kg ! and the bigest population of soncoyas in the wild in the north of Mexico is in the south of Jalisco. They aren´t that great in flavor, some may say.

Need a lot of breeding, and remember somebody saying that you will need to sow 200 soncoya seeds, and then wait them to bear fruit and thus for many generations. I am not pesimistic (usually), but it worth going after them in southern Mexico, next year, maybe.

The above followup was added by leonel on August 12, 2006 at 10:43 pm PST.


forgot to post the stolen soncoya pictura, jaja

here it goes, a mexican soncoya...

The above followup was added by leonel on August 12, 2006 at 10:45 pm PST.


Good info....Nice Picture.

Great to see that other people are trying to grow obscure annonas also. Nice picture too.

Thanks Guys.

The above followup was added by RaCor on August 14, 2006 at 8:21 am PST.


The Demise of Abiu's Soncoya

Take five, attempting to post...

Abiu,

Your experience with Soncoyas is of interest. Can you tell me more precisely how they died?

As I see it, when you are experimenting with trying to grow fruit trees beyond their suggested climate ranges, and one of them dies, it can be worthwhile to perform a kind of "plant autopsy."

So...for example, assuming we are talking about a climate that gets occasional frosts in December-March, and one of your experimental plants dies...prior to its death, did the plant defoliate at the first hint of cold weather? Did the limbs then die back? Did the trunk then die back? Did it then die back to the ground? Did it then completely die? Alternatively, did it NOT defoliate or die back at all, but instead, simply die of root rot?

The above followup was added by Paul on August 15, 2006 at 10:00 pm PST.


Soncoya Autopsy

Paul,

Out of 10 seeds, I managed to get 3 seedlings.
I kept one at home and brought two to my unheated greenhouse.

The one indoors also died, proving that not only cold will get them. In this case, I think the lack of sunshine did the
most damage.

Soncoyas defoliate with the first pronounced drop in temperature. I think that a low of 6C / 43F or so will
trigger leaf drop and dormancy. (In my opinion this is a good thing!.) One seedlings, died the first winter with
root rot. In retrospect, I should have stop watering it
much sooner to trigger dormancy, I think this is
fundamental. The second seedling survived that same winter, but the stem lost a few centimeters. One thing I noticed, too, is that the soncoya was the last Annona to break dormancy. They really seem to need warm nights to start growing.
This past winter, again, I made the same mistake and
did not keep the soncoya as dry as I should. When it failed to re-sprout, I pulled it up and noticed the few remaining roots were black. Most of the main stem was still alive, but there was some die back, again.

Next time I try the soncoya, I will give them a proper dry winter. I will withhold the water by late October to trigger dormancy. I also want to try grafting soncoyas onto something more tolerant of cold roots. A. montana would be ideal. I doubt A. cherimola would work.

The above followup was added by abiu(.pt) on August 16, 2006 at 2:09 pm PST.


Defoliation and Demise

Leonel,

By the way...great picture! Have you tasted Soncoya yourself? Are they in the markets down there? Is anyone even aware of the fruit in Mexico? I like those leaves, kind of like loquat leaves. I can’t think any other annona with textured leaves.

Abiu,

So they have leaf drop at the slightest hint of cold. :( It is interesting how you see this as a good thing. I suppose it could be worse...then again, it could be a lot better.

For me, I have seen this leaf drop, then "straight line to demise" scenario with soursops (A. Muricata) I have tried to grow outside. (By contrast, Wayne in Southern California did manage to keep his soursop alive, outdoors, for several years, though I guess it spent most of the year without leaves, which clearly, in the long run, is not going to work.)

An eagerness to defoliate at the slightest hint of cold weather, to me, does not bode particularly well for pushing the limits with a plant. Still...a few possible ways around this might include: starting with a more mature specimen, planting out dozens of seedlings and hoping evolution will provide you with a few cold hardy ones, utilizing some quirky fertilizer regimen (highly speculative), or finding seeds from the fruit of a tree that was actually growing at the climatic limits for this tree (perhaps at an unusually high elevation).

I have seen cherimoyas and guavas respond with defoliation, limb die back, then trunk die back. Guavas, however, rarely take that final step, and finally die. They will almost always spring back up from their roots (guava roots are known to be very good at withstanding wet conditions.)

Cherimoyas often do take that final step and die. On the other hand, once a cherimoya gets mature, it really tends to stop at the limb die back stage.

Mangoes, I think, offer an interesting contrast. They do NOT defoliate at the first hint of cold. In fact, they are VERY reluctant to defoliate even when confronted with frost. They are also more resistant to limb and trunk die back. To me, this behavior is somewhat encouraging for pushing the limits with mangoes. The tree as a whole, does not exhibit vulnerability to the cold. (This, of course, is true of mature mango trees, not baby mango trees.)

Of course, the way mango trees die in the cold is from root rot. Suddenly, in the dead of winter, or even in the warmth of spring, the tree's leaves crinkle up from lack of water, this despite the fact that the ground is quite wet. The roots are simply gone, turned to mush, and the rest of tree dies from lack of water and nutrients. As I see it, there are fairly straightforward ways to ameliorate this path to demise. You can plant them in a raised bed, or on a hill. Alternatively, or additionally, they can be planted in sand with some pumice, or sandy loam. So far, it seems to be working for me.

The above followup was added by Paul on August 16, 2006 at 6:58 pm PST.


soncoya

No, unfortunately have not had one myself , it is not a very popular annona, so most of them are only available at road fruit stands in those regions .

I know the nearest wild soncoya fruit trees population to me are in the south of Jalisco, very near to Colima, but I have heard they are not very popular even in these regions (not very tasty)!. Need a lot of breeding, at least from this particular region.

The above followup was added by leonel on August 16, 2006 at 10:35 pm PST.


defoliation

Paul,

What I think is a good thing about soncoya defoliating is that defoliation is likely tied to drought dormancy. I think that can be exploited to our advantage.

Soursops defoliate as a result of damage and that is bad. If they are kept warm enough they will happily grow all the time. This does not work so well when we have a cold winter. Defoliation in soursop probably consumes all the energy the plant has acumulated, which goes to produce new leaves and branchlets instead of going to flowers and fruits. I fear my plants will never produce because they drop their leaves every winter.


A. squamosa has shown, for me, little or no damage from cold except for branch tip dieback. I think this happens because they go fully dormant. I've noticed that
they start dropping leaves weeks before the first cold arrives. I have noticed that tip dieback happens even during the summer. In my case, I think it is due to pots
do not allow the root system to develop to the size needed to feed the canopy.

Bear in mind, that I do not think it is feasible to grow these Annonacea outside, in my location. My experience is from growing them under plastic, which approximates a tropical montane climate. The day heat the plastic produces keeps many plants alive, even if the nights get colder than desireable for 3 months.

The above followup was added by abiu(.pt) on August 17, 2006 at 2:47 am PST.


Annona Seeds...a Side By Side Comparison

As long as we are having some fun with annonas, let me see if I can post this side by side comparison of seed sizes that I put together back in April.

You will notice that the Soncoya seed is quite large...larger even, than that last seed on the chart, which apparently needs to be planted in a bank account in order to grow...very slowly...and the fruit is typically bitter.

The above followup was added by Paul on August 18, 2006 at 11:04 pm PST.


soncoya flowers

Hello everyone. I have a soncoya tree that is about 15 feet tall and is blosoming for the first time. ( had one bloom last year, seemed to have been on tree forever) Was wondering if anyone tried hand polination and had any advice on best times, Thanks.

I am in Jamaica west indies. ( 2200 feet above sea level.)

The above followup was added by ronald on August 31, 2006 at 7:40 pm PST.


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