Soursop Tree Guide: How To Identify, Care, Grow Guanabana Fruit Trees

Woman looking at a Soursop tree, also known as guanabana fruit tree after learning about identification and how to grow, plant and care for soursop trees, growing zones, and the fruit benefits.

If you have ever looked into alternative remedies for cancer, you may have heard about the Soursop Tree and the supposed benefits of its fruit that many patients swear by.

But Soursop offers more perks than its alleged medicinal value. For one, the fruit in itself is already a tasty treat when eaten on its own, much more when it is used for syrups, jams, smoothies, and a lot of other goodies anyone would enjoy.

For this reason, many people wonder how to grow a Soursop tree in their own yard or home.

This complete guide explains exactly how to do that, as well as how to identify, care for and harvest Guanabana Fruit Trees, also known as the Soursop tree. 

Soursop Tree (Guanabana Fruit Tree)

(Annona muricata)

Soursop Fruit Tree in oval frame on green background.
  • Family: Annonaceae
  • Genus: Annona
  • Leaf: Obovate, ovate; green; glossy
  • Bark: Light brown, rough
  • Seed: Yellow-brown
  • Blossoms: Green to yellow
  • Fruit: Rough-skin, oblong, green, edible
  • Native Habitat: Central and Tropical South America
  • Height: 25-30 feet
  • Canopy: 8-10 feet
  • Type: Evergreen
  • Native Growing Zone: USDA Growing Zone 9-11

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Least Concern


Image Credit: alidaferreira198551

Soursop Name and Origin: Where Does Guanabana Fruit Tree Hail From?

The Soursop Tree is a small evergreen tree belonging to the Annonaceae family known for its fast-growing capability as well as the tons of health benefits one can get from its deliciously sweet and sour fruit.

It is native to the Central and South American tropics but is now being commercially cultivated in tropical regions around the world.1 Currently, Mexico is the country where it’s grown the most.27

Another name for Soursop that you may be familiar with is “graviola” or “guanabana”, which is what it’s called in Spanish-speaking countries. It’s also referred to as Brazilian Pawpaw by some.

Every country in Southeast Asia where it’s extensively grown today also has its own name for it. For example, in the Philippines, it is known as “guyabano”, while Malaysians call it “durian maki” and in the Vietnamese, “mang cau xiem”.

All of these different names refer to the same hearty soursop fruit, which is used across a variety of syrups, ice creams, desserts, as well as health supplements.

Soursop Tree Identification (How To Identify Soursop Tree)

There are certain characteristics you have to look for if you want to learn how to identify Soursop Tree.

Graphic depicting the identification of a Soursop tree through its leaves, seeds, fruit, flower, and bark.

On your journey of getting to know this plant,  the following list of attributes can help you learn how to recognize it easily.

  • Large and spiny green fruit with a thick texture to its skin
  • Obovate or ovate leaves that have a dark green color and a glossy texture
  • Dull yellow flowers that hang upside down and have three large petals on the outside
  • 25-30 feet in height and 8-10 feet in width
  • A slender trunk that is 15 cm in size with light brown and rough bark19

These basic characteristics of the Soursop are key to distinguishing it from other types of similar plants, especially within its family.

What Do Soursops Look Like? (Images of Soursop Leaves, Flowers, Seeds, and Fruit)

Similar to other types of evergreen trees, you can find tons of images of Soursop Tree and fruit all across the web to help you become more familiar with it. Scrutinizing all of its features, however, is crucial to learning about the tree in and out.

Soursop Tree Leaves

If you are out to find Soursop Tree leaves, it can help to remember that these leaves are oval or oblong in shape while having a glossy texture and dark green color to them. You may find that these leaves are also leathery and slippery to the touch.

A cluster of green Soursop Tree Leaves attached to the stem bathed in sunlight.

(Image: Forest and Kim Starr40)

Another interesting detail is that the upper side of these leaves is darker in color while the underside is lighter and has veins visible across it.16

The typical appearance of these leaves can make it difficult to tell the Soursop Tree apart from other trees. But when you combine the look of the soursop leaf with other characteristics such as the bark, flower, and most particularly the fruit of the tree, it makes its presence known quite easily.

Soursop Tree Flower

When you are looking for the Soursop Tree flower, you may find it more distinct in appearance than Soursop Tree leaves.

The Soursop Tree flower has three large but dull yellow petals on the outside and three smaller and lighter petals on the inside. It hangs upside down from the tree and feels a bit tough to the texture.

A solitary yellow Soursop Tree Flower in bloom hanging upside down froom the stem and surrounded by green leaves.

(Image: Forest and Kim Starr41)

The Soursop Tree flower is typically around 2 inches in size, which makes it easy for you to notice it from a distance.

But in some cases, the flower can feel like it is hidden under the dark green leaves. This is especially true for flowers that are located at the base of the branches and near the tree trunk.

If you encounter a Soursop Tree with no visible flowers or fruits, you can try looking closer to the branch to identify it.

Soursop Tree Seeds

You can identify Soursop Tree seeds by their black-to-brown color. These seeds are about half an inch long and about a quarter of an inch wide.17

A bunch of soursop fruits cut open in half showing white creamy flesh and dark brown to black Soursop Tree seeds.

(Image: The LEAF Project42)

When you cut into a soursop fruit, you may find it to have about 30-200 seeds each. When you harvest these seeds, you need to plant them within 30 days to increase their chances of growing into a new Soursop Tree.

You can also purchase these seeds from online vendors or local gardening supply stores near you. But remember that you should not consume soursop seeds on their own due to their toxicity.18

Soursop Fruit (Graviola Fruit)

While you may find the Soursop Tree to have largely indistinguishable characteristics, the Soursop Fruit, or Graviola Fruit, can help you identify the tree easily due to its distinctive appearance.

The Soursop Fruit is actually the largest fruit in the Anonaceae family. It has an irregular shape, mostly oval and heart–like, with the length ranging from a few inches to over 1 foot.

Close-up shot of two irregularly-shaped soursop fruits showing their green, bumpy outer skin.

(Image: WonderfulBali43)

The outer skin is green in color; spiky and somewhat bumpy in texture. These tiny thorns that aren’t really sharp are what give the fruit its distinct look.

If we’re talking about what Soursop tastes like, this medium-to-large-sized fruit has a creamy and smooth inner flesh with a mix of tangy, sweet, and sour flavors that can easily appeal to your taste buds.28,37

Soursop vs Other Similar Fruits

While Soursop is unique in itself, some people still have a hard time distinguishing it from other similarly-looking fruits. Here are the most common of them:

Sweetsop vs Soursop

Sweetsop vs Soursop: Sweetsop (Annona squamosa) belongs to the same family as soursop (Annona muricata).

A solitary sweetsop fruit hanging from the stem.

(Image: ignartonosbg45)

The difference between sweetsop vs. soursop is that sweetsop, also called sugar apple, is smaller in size than soursop and has a sweeter flavor.

But you should not mix up sweetsop with custard apple (Annona reticulata), which is another tree and fruit from the same family.

Mountain Soursop vs Soursop

You can find mountain soursop (Annona montana) in almost the same regions as soursop ((Annona muricata).

Low-angle shot of a single mountain soursop, rounder in shape than a regular soursop, hanging from its tree stem surrounded by green leaves.

(Image: I likE plants!44)

In addition to Central America, mountain soursop is also available in some parts of the Caribbean islands.38

Besides having a rounder shape, you may find the mountain soursop to have a milder taste than the Soursop.

Jackfruit vs Soursop

If you are not clear about the Jackfruit Tree (Artocarpus heterophyllus) being the same plant as the Soursop Tree (Annona muricata), you can now be confident that they are in fact different plants.

While the fruits of both of these trees are somewhat similar in appearance, it may help you to remember that they are different in their taste and highly distinct in their size.29

A bunch of jackfruits neatly arranged in rows for a market display.

(Image: karolranis46)

Keep in mind that jackfruit has a fleshier but sweeter flavor with fruits that can weigh more than 50 kg each; while soursop fruit carries a creamier texture but more sour notes with fruits that typically weigh up to 4.5 kg.30

Soursop Tree Growing Zone: Where Does Soursop Grow?

To help you find answers to questions such as how to find the ideal environment to grow a tree and how long does it take for a tree to grow, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has created a system that determines certain plant hardiness zones across the U.S. These designated Soursop Tree growing zone use an area’s annual average minimum winter temperature to identify what types of trees can thrive in certain environments.

The USDA plant hardiness zones are segmented into different sections that start from 1 and go all the way up to 13. By learning about your area’s specific zone through the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, you can figure out if you can grow your very own Soursop Tree, or any other type of plant for that matter.6

But where does Soursop grow specifically?

For the purpose of this guide, we can tell you right away that the USDA recommends Zones 9 to 11 as the best growing zones for Soursop Tree; where to grow them within areas in this zone range is up to you.3

If you want to grow these trees in a pot, some experts say you can do so in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-11.2

If you’re a novice in tree planting, you have to put in a bit of time studying this to make sure that you can easily care for your own Soursop Tree without facing unnecessary problems in the process. For best results, you should also research and follow tips on caring for and watering a tree in different settings.

How To Grow Soursop Tree (Annona Muricata)

This is perhaps what you’re really here for–learning how to grow soursop on your own like a pro.

If you want your tree to not just survive but thrive under your care, the following planting tips for Soursop Tree can help you achieve this goal.

Low-angle shot of a Soursop Tree canopy showing a dense foliage with some fruits.

(Image: Drew Roberts47)

Bear these suggestions in mind to elevate your chances of successfully growing a Soursop Tree.

Soursop Tree Propagation

The most common propagation method for soursop is by seed or grafting.

When growing a Soursop Tree from a seed, you need to keep the following points in mind.3

  • You should sow the seed within 30 days of harvesting
  • You should wash the seed before you plant it
  • You should choose moist but well-drained soil to plant the seed
  • You should select a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight a day
  • You should water the plant at least once a week to keep the soil moist

If you are growing a Soursop Tree from a seedling, you can follow virtually the same practices to fantastic results. But if you are growing a Soursop Tree from a cutting, you need to fulfill the additional requirement of using soft cuttings.

Ideal Growing Conditions for Guanabana Fruit

You might also be delighted to know that the best-growing conditions for Soursop Tree are not that hard to meet. However, if you fulfill them, it does work wonders for helping your Soursop Tree thrive under your care.

These requirements include:

  • Humid air
  • Warm weather
  • Full sun to partial shade
  • Semi-dry, well-drained, acidic, sandy soil

But how much sunlight does Soursop Tree need each day?

Soursop Trees love warmth, and while you can grow it in partial shade, some experts recommend that you treat your tree with full sunlight for at least six hours a day.12

Watering Needs

You may be happy to know that the watering needs for Soursop Tree plants are pretty straightforward.

Typically, you need to water your Soursop Tree only once a week to make sure that the soil remains moist.3 As long as you don’t overwater the tree and keep the soil well-drained, you can fulfill its needs for hydration on an ongoing basis.

This is similar to the usual practices of watering a tree.

How Far Apart To Plant Soursop Tree

Knowing how far apart to plant Soursop Tree will help you become successful in your tree planting journey.

If you are planning to grow more than one Soursop Tree, you should remember to plant them within a distance of 25 feet from one another[10], but you should also bear in mind that some gardeners deem 12-15 feet of distance to be enough.

With that being said, it is best to go with the option of leaving more area between trees. This gives each tree the space to grow to its ideal height without disrupting the health or appearance of its neighboring counterparts in your garden.

This also makes it easier to put mulching around trees.

Soursop Harvest and Yield

Since it is an evergreen, topics like when to plant Soursop Tree for the best yield aren’t really that critical. Meaning, you do not need to plant it in a specific season to get the most produce out of it.

Photo of a guanabana fruit hanging from its stem surrounded by green leaves and set against the backdrop of a blue sky.

(Image: Tatters48)

Nevertheless, you should make it a point to sow soursop seeds within 30 days of harvesting them.7

How To Make Soursop Tree Bear Fruits

In case you ever found yourself asking, “Do trees have genders?” The answer is yes.

Some trees are hermaphroditic, which means that they have both male and female reproductive parts in their flowers and remain capable of bearing fruit.39 Whereas, other types of trees are either male or female.

So, how to make Soursop Tree bear fruits? In these trees, you can expect only the female plants to bear fruit.

But if you’re wondering specifically how to make Soursop Tree bear fruit, the answer depends on some particular factors.

Your Soursop Tree may typically get pollinated by beetles, who do their job without any issues.13 But in certain situations such as the absence of clear and warm weather, these beetles do not pollinate the flowers.

In these situations, it may need a little assistance from your end instead, which is to say, you need to do tree pollination by hand.

How To Do Soursop Tree Pollination By Hand

This process requires you to use a cotton swab or Q-tip to collect pollen from smaller flowers that are closer to the end of the tree’s branches.14 These flowers are not ideal for bearing fruit, but they still make the pollen required for other flowers to produce the delicious soursop fruit.

Once you have collected the pollen, you can smear it in the center of the flowers that are closest to the tree trunk. This is similar to many other varieties of trees that need hand pollination.15

This small practice can make a huge difference in helping your Soursop Tree bear large, flavorful, and high-quality fruit. You can speak to an experienced arborist or gardener to learn more about this practice.

When Does Soursop Season Start?

Again, since Soursop is an evergreen plant, you can typically find the soursop fruit throughout the year in tropical areas. But on a general basis, it may benefit you to know that soursop season peaks in spring and continues until fall.28

Soursop Tree Growth Rate

Like any other plant, how long it takes to grow Soursop Tree depends on whether you as an owner will take great care in implementing all the best practices for growing it.

However, you may be happy to know that the Soursop Tree is actually considered a fast grower.

Graphic illustrating the growth rate of a soursop tree from the initial plant stage to full tree development, spanning from year 1 when it measures 1-2 feet up to year 6 and beyond, reaching heights of 15-30 feet.

(Soursop Tree Image: Vmenkov52)

According to the typical Soursop Tree growth rate, this fruit-bearing plant can generally grow up to 6 feet within the first two years.8 Your Soursop Tree can continue on this rapid progress, at least in terms of tree planting, in the next few years and hit 15-20 feet in about 6 years.9

By this time, you’ll have a full-grown Soursop Tree.

The best part about all of these though is the fact that Soursop Trees can bear fruit within the first 3-5 years of you growing it. This makes them one of the fastest trees to give you the fruit of your labor, quite literally so.

Companion Plants for Growing Soursop Tree

When looking for companion plants for growing Soursop Tree, you should look into best practices for growing fruit trees.

Similar to many other fruit trees, the Soursop Tree works well with herb and fruit plants. These include but are not limited to oregano, blueberries, durian, avocado, and citrus.

Depending upon the area that you live in, you can choose between a variety of plants that complement your Soursop Tree.20, 21, 22

Soursop Tree Disease Prevention and Care

When you grow your Soursop Tree, you have to be wary about the diseases that commonly affect it. These include but are not limited to the following:

With that being said, the question now is this: how to stop Soursop Tree disease?

Well, since the Soursop Tree is most commonly susceptible to fungal diseases, the best way to protect your Soursop Tree is by reducing risk factors for these problems. Soursop Tree disease prevention comes down to keeping the soil well-drained and spraying fungicides before the disease spreads to a significant degree.

If you suspect that your Soursop Tree has fallen prey to these diseases, you can speak to experienced arborists to get precise advice on how to care for them.

Common Pests of the Soursop Tree

Some of the most common pests of the Soursop Tree include:10

  • Mealybugs
  • Lacewings
  • Scales
  • Fruit flies

In most cases, you can use natural pest control for Soursop Tree to get rid of these uninvited guests. For example, you can dispel mealy bugs with a simple burst of water.11

But if natural remedies don’t work for some pests, you can seek help from professional arborists to find the best solution for your specific pest problem.

Soursop Tree Facts and Soursop Benefits

When it comes to types of trees that are considered beneficial for your health, the Soursop Tree stands front and center.

You would be right in guessing that it’s mostly because of the Soursop fruit, which is known for its use in various herbal treatments.

The purported benefits of the Soursop Tree can help against conditions including but not limited to bacterial infections, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer.

Close-up view of two soursop tree fruits in a basket, with one fruit cut in half to reveal its white flesh and black seeds.

In fact, you might be interested to know that the Soursop fruit and leaf extract have a long history of being used in traditional medicine. Over the past few years, several studies have substantiated the medicinal properties of Soursop benefits for health concerns such as joint pain, seizures, and inflammation.4

But once again, you may guess correctly that the most popular use of Soursop for medicinal purposes is for treating the terrible disease that is cancer. Those are Soursop tree facts.

If you want to learn more about Soursop’s role in treating cancer, this is the information that you might be looking for: the extracts from Annona muricata such as those from the Soursop fruit and Soursop leaf extracts contain substances called annonaceous acetogenin compounds (AGEs). These substances have shown their ability to reduce cancer cell growth in lab settings.4

While these effects are supported by unverified claims of people who supposedly used Soursop fruit or leaf to treat cancer, you need to keep in mind that they are scientifically substantiated only in lab research.

This means that if you are looking for undeniable proof of the Soursop Tree’s benefits against cancer, you may be disappointed to know that there have been little to no studies recording the effects of Soursop on actual humans who have cancer. As a result, you may see prominent medical institutions warning against the use of Soursop fruit, leaf, or extract as the only method or alternative therapy to treat this fatal illness.

So, if you have been looking into alternative methods to treat cancer for yourself or a loved one, you may still continue to do so using Soursop. However, experts recommend that you should not use Soursop as your only treatment for cancer and seek traditional, scientifically-backed treatment from certified health professionals.

With that being said, you might be delighted to know that the Soursop Fruit as well as other parts of this plant do pack a punch of nutrients in them.

For example, a single Soursop Fruit contains more than double the recommended daily value of vitamin C.5 Additionally, Soursop Fruit, leaf, and extracts are also rich in antioxidants that may protect you from a slew of conditions and health challenges.

Besides being highly nutritious, the fruit’s creamy texture as well as its sweet and sour taste makes it a popular ingredient for a variety of food products such as ice creams and syrups.

Other Uses of Soursop Leaf and Soursop Fruit

Because the medicinal effects of the Soursop Tree remain largely anecdotal for their benefits on humans, you should be careful in consuming Soursop Tree leaves to cure any ailments.

Two glasses, one filled with mango juice and another with soursop juice, on top of a wooden table.

(Image: Xemenendura49)

With that being said, you can typically consume these leaves by boiling or steeping them in water.33 This creates a Soursop tea that you can then drink on its own.

With the Soursop Fruit, however, due to its flavorful taste and fibrous flesh, you can actually enjoy it on its own. You can eat the fruit raw, use it in desserts, or blend it into a smoothie.

You can also combine it with other healthy ingredients such as yogurt that go well with the fruit’s sweet and sour taste as well as its creamy texture.

All things considered, you should be careful in consuming Soursop Fruit as a primary remedy to treat any sort of medical condition. In such cases, you should always speak to your physician first.

How Much Carbon Does Soursop Tree Sequester?

So, how much carbon does soursop tree sequester? If you are planning to grow your own Soursop Tree to contribute to the environment, you may want to know that a single Soursop Tree may absorb around 75.29 kg of CO2 per year.34

Since some Soursop Trees can live over 100 years, you can determine that they have a noticeable lifetime carbon sequestration.35

But if you are planting trees mainly for carbon sequestration, you might want to look for large trees that are better at carbon-capturing than their smaller counterparts such as the Soursop Tree.36

Eye-level shot of a solitary graviola fruit set on a table with coconut tree trunks and a sandy beach in the background.

(Image: John Loo50)

With its low maintenance and easy growth, the Soursop Tree makes for a great fruit tree for your garden.

While the medical benefits of the Soursop Tree, fruit, and leaves are proven only in lab settings, the tree still provides you with delicious fruit that you can use in a variety of ways.

By making the low-maintenance Soursop Tree a part of your home, you can enjoy its fruit for years to come with little to no additional effort.

Frequently Asked Questions About Soursop Tree

Can You Have a Full Grown Soursop Tree at Home?

You can most certainly have a full grown Soursop Tree at home; you just need to be careful about maintaining best practices for growing a Soursop Tree on your own. These approaches include maintaining well-drained soil, full sunlight to partial shade, and a scheduled spray of fungicides.

What is Soursop Tree Symbolism?

If you are looking for details on Soursop tree symbolism or for the answer to what is Soursop, you may find that it varies between people. Some associate soursop with growth, while others tie it with reward.31,32

Are Soursoup Leaves Good for Health?

Soursoup leaves have certain compounds that can be good for your health due to their effects on inflammation, diabetes, viruses, bacteria, and cancer. But you should also remember that these effects have not been studied in humans and remain limited to being proven in lab settings.26


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4Zorofchian, S. M., Fadaeinasab, M., Nikzad, S., Mohan, G., Ali, H. M., & Kadir, H. A. (2015, July 10). Annona muricata (Annonaceae): A Review of Its Traditional Uses, Isolated Acetogenins and Biological Activities. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved August 15, 2023, from <>

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40Annona muricata (Soursop) Leaves at KiHana Nursery Kihei, Maui, Hawaii Photo by Forest and Kim Starr / Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0). Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <>

41Annona muricata (Soursop) Flowers and leaves at Pali o Waipio, Maui, Hawaii. Photo by Forest and Kim Starr / Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0). Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <>

42Soursop (la guanábana) at Alajuela’s public market, Costa Rica. Photo by The LEAF Project / CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication. Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <>

43Photo by WonderfulBali. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

44Annona montana immature fruit Photo by I likE plants! / Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) . Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <>

45Photo by ignartonosbg. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

46Photo by karolranis. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

47Soursop Photo by Drew Roberts / Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0). Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <>

48Soursop fruit on the tree Photo by Tatters / Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) . Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <>

49Jugo de mango y guanábana Photo by Xemenendura / Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0). Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <ábana.jpeg>

50Soursop in Paradise Photo by John Loo / Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) . Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <>

51Tree Fruit Food Nature Flora Photo by Alida Ferreira (alidaferreira1985). (2018, April 18) / Pixabay Content License. Cropped and added text, shape, and background elements. Pixabay. Retrieved February 16, 2024, from <>

52Soursop-tree-1480 Photo by Vmenkov / CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED | Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported. Cropped, Resized, Changed Format. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved February 15, 2024, from <>