Sugar Apple vs Cherimoya

Written by Heather Hall
Published: October 21, 2022
© janngam
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Key Points

  • Sugar apples and cherimoya are edible fruits that grow on trees in tropical and subtropical regions.
  • Both sugar apples and cherimoya fruits are described as sweet and custard-like.
  • Both the cherimoya tree and the fruit are slightly larger than the sugar apple.

Sugar apples and cherimoya are both fruits of tropical trees in the paw paw family. They are cone-like and spherical in appearance, with a green rind and white fruit that tastes sweet. They both have flesh with black seeds and a custard-like texture. But there are a few differences, such as the size of the tree, the taste, the appearance of the skin, and the fruit size. Let’s break down a few of these differences below.

Comparing Sugar Apple vs. Cherimoya

Sugar apples and cherimoya are both excellent juiced or pureed into smoothies.


CharacteristicSugar AppleCherimoya
Scientific NameAnnona SquamosaAnnona Cherimola
Common NameSweet SopCustard Apple, Ice Cream Fruit
Native RegionAmericas and West IndiesEcuador and Peru
Description of TreeSmall tree 10-20 feet tall. well-branched with light brown barkSmall tree 16-30 feet tall. Sappy woody branches covered in rust-colored hairs
Description of FruitSpherical conical. Diameter 2-4″. Length 2-4″. Weight 3-8 oz. The rind is made of thick knobby segments that are pale green or blueish green. The flesh is yellowish-white with black seeds.Conical or heart-shaped. Diameter 2-4″. Length 4-8″. Weight 5-17 oz. The green rind looks like overlapping scales. The flesh is white with black seeds.
TasteSweet, tropical, creamyMellow sweet, tangy, acidic
UsesEaten raw, frozen, used as a flavoring agent, juicedThe fruit is used for making ice cream, custard, and cakes. The crushed seed is used as an insecticide

Key Differences Between Sugar Apple vs. Cherimoya

As you can see, these two fruits are very similar. The most significant differences between them are in the appearance of the exterior rind. One is bumpy, and one has overlapping scales. Other important distinctions are the area where we find them growing wild and the taste of the flesh. We will break down all of these differences in detail now.

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Sugar Apple vs. Cherimoya: Name

The sugar apple is spherical or conical and has a green rind composed of thick knobby segments.

© murilo de vasconcelos

Both sugar apples and cherimoya come from the Annona (or paw paw) family. There are 166 members of this family, a few of which are thought to have mildly poisonous or neurotoxic effects. This theory is still being studied and is not definitive yet.

For our purposes, we will discuss the most popular and edible versions. The scientific name for the sugar apple is Annona squamosa; many people call it by its other name, sweet sop. The scientific name for cherimoya is Annona cherimola; it is also called custard apple and ice cream fruit. This name comes from the practice of freezing cherimoya and then eating it with a spoon like ice cream!

Sugar Apple vs. Cherimoya: Native Region

Historians think Sugar apples originated in the tropical Americas and the West Indies. In the present day, it is the most widely cultivated of all Annona trees. It is grown in almost every tropical and subtropical area. It is not cold tolerant, and the tree will die if the temperature goes even a few degrees below zero.

Historians believe the cherimoya tree originated in Ecuador and Peru; some even believe they came from Central America because they are found growing wild there. Commercial growers cultivate cherimoya in many other tropical and subtropical regions. You can find them at fruit markets in many countries. Cherimoya is slightly more tolerant of a brief period of cold weather and will go dormant to protect themselves. However, they will die if exposed for longer than a few days.

Sugar Apple vs. Cherimoya: Appearance

Sugar apples are the fruit of the Annona squamosa tree, which grows from 10-20 feet tall. The fruit is spherical or conical and has a green rind composed of thick knobby segments. The exterior of the fruit is light green or blue-green. The inside of the fruit is yellow-white with shiny black or brown seeds. Each fruit is two to four inches in diameter and two to four inches long. The fruits weigh between three to eight ounces each.

Cherimoya is the fruit of the Annona cherimola tree, which grows from 16-30 feet tall. The fruit is heart-shaped or conical and has a green rind that resembles dragon scales overlapping. The exterior of the fruit is green. The inside of the fruit is white with inedible black seeds. Each fruit measures four to eight inches long and two to four inches in diameter. The fruits weigh between five and seventeen ounces, with some of the largest specimens being as heavy as six pounds!

Sugar Apple vs. Cherimoya: Taste

Cherimoya is heart-shaped or conical with a green rind resembling dragon scales overlapping.


Sugar apple has a sweet taste, very similar to custard. The flesh is creamy and fragrant, juicy and buttery. Some people describe the taste as tropical and minty with a hint of cinnamon.

Cherimoya has a fruity, somewhat acidic taste, similar to strawberry, kiwi, and pineapple, all mixed into one. It is refreshing and creamy with a soft pudding-like texture.

Sugar Apple vs. Cherimoya: Uses

Suppose you have sugar apple or cherimoya fruit available. In that case, a favorite way to eat them is to cut the fruit in half, freeze it, and then scoop out the frozen flesh with a spoon and eat it like ice cream. Sugar apple is a bit firmer, while cherimoya stays soft like ice cream.

Sugar apples and cherimoya are both excellent juiced or pureed into smoothies. Cherimoya is commonly baked into cakes and whipped into a custard-like dessert. They are both excellent served raw and chilled.


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The Featured Image

Two fresh custard apples and a branch on the custard tree
Two fresh custard apples and a branch on the custard tree
© janngam

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About the Author

I am a freelance writer with 22 years of experience. I live in the Pacific Northwest and am surrounded by nature. When I go for my daily runs I often see herds of elk, deer, and bald eagles. I am owned by two dogs who take me on hikes in the mountains where we see coyotes, black bears, and wild turkeys.

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