What is a Soursop?

Sally Foster
Sally Foster

An evergreen native to the West Indies, the soursop tree is known for the large, versatile fruit it produces. Soursops are highly popular around the world, but are rarely found fresh outside of the tropical areas in which they are grown.

The flesh of a soursop may be added to a fruit salad.
The flesh of a soursop may be added to a fruit salad.

A member of the Cherimoya family, the soursop tree is short and bushy, generally reaching a height of 25-30 feet (7.62-9.14 m). Its large, heart-shaped fruits mature during the summer and fall and can weigh up to 15 lbs (6.8 kg). The green leathery skin of the soursop is inedible and covered with pliable spines, protecting fibrous white segments of acidic fruit within. Each fertile segment contains a single hard black seed; one soursop may contain anywhere from a few dozen to 200 seeds.

The diuretic properties of soursop may be helpful for people with liver disease.
The diuretic properties of soursop may be helpful for people with liver disease.

The soursop requires a warm, humid climate to thrive. Originally grown in the West Indies and tropical America, it is now cultivated in the Bahamas, southeastern China, Australia and western Africa. In the continental United States, the soursop can survive in the southernmost parts of Florida, and then only if carefully protected from frost during the winter months.

The flesh of the soursop is tart, but fruits that are less acidic and fibrous than most can be sliced into sections and eaten with a spoon, or torn and used in fruit salads. Most commonly, the pulp is pressed and strained to extract the juice, which is then sweetened and used in many drinks, ice creams and sherbets. An electric blender can be used to process the pulp, but one must take care to remove all seeds from the fruit first, as they are toxic.

Soursops are extremely versatile. A puree made by processing the white flesh with sugar freezes well and can be used in a variety of dessert recipes. The pulp of the soursop can also be canned and exported for commercial use. In Indonesia, immature soursops are cooked as vegetables. In Brazil, they are roasted or fried.

In many countries, soursops are believed to have medicinal properties as well. The diuretic effects of the ripe fruit are commonly used as a remedy for urethritis. The sap of the leaves is also believed to have healing properties, and can be used as a poultice to relieve swelling and eczema.

The sap of the leaves of the soursop tree may be helpful in relieving eczema.
The sap of the leaves of the soursop tree may be helpful in relieving eczema.
Sally Foster
Sally Foster

Sarah is a freelance writer living in Istanbul, Turkey, where she has taught numerous English language courses and runs a blog focusing on the expat community. Since joining the wiseGEEK team several years ago, Sarah has become a veritable fount of knowledge on many obscure topics. She has a B. A from the University of Oregon, where she majored in Romance Languages (Spanish and Italian) and Linguistics and an M.A. in TESOL from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

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Discussion Comments


Although wikepedia lists this fruit as having possible benefits in preventing breast cancer, it also states a risk of developing an abnormal form of parkinsons, due to a high level of a certain natural chemical in it.


hi Hope all are doing good, Please anyone can help me getting this fruit as i really need it for my brothers wife please if anyone can help me, please post.

Thanks and waiting for some response.


How can one tell whether the fruit is ripe?


In order to grow soursop from seeds the soil needs to be continuously moist and warm! It does not require sunlight. Put the seeds an inch or two deep in the soil; water it and keep it covered with plastic or something to keep the moisture in between waterings. It might take two or three weeks for it to sprout, but as soon as it sprouts, move it into sunlight. Hope that helps! You can purchase seeds online.


Good information on this blog i must say. i am setting up my new site and am sure this is vital information. Keep up the work. i will sure to come again.


Can you tell me how to grow soursop please? I have some seeds and I put them in the good soil, but never grow. It has been there for weeks now.


I want to know how accurate the reports are about this plant being used to kill cancer cells. Can it be recommended for the purpose of curing cancer?


This fruit is abundant in Jamaica. I grew up there. It is used as a juice and is believed to cure nerve problems. The heart (the inner soft dark pit) is given to children who "wet the bed" and it does cure this problem.

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