- Ilama (fruit)
name = Ilama
genus = "
species = "A. diversifolia"
binomial = "Annona diversifolia"
The ilama (also known as the tree of the ilama, Latin "Annona diversifolia") is a
tropical fruit treefound in Central America. The name is derived from the Spanish from the Nahuatl "ilamatzapotl" whose rough translation is 'old woman's sapote'. The name is also applied to a similar fruit, soncoya or "cabeza de negro" ("A. pupurea") which is cultivated as an aternative to the cherimoya. The soncoya is similar in size to the ilama but grey brown in color with hard bumps on the surface, and orange flesh that tastes like mangoor papaw.
The ilama fruit is either eaten on the half-shell or scooped out with a tool. The ilama is usually chilled when served. It is sometimes served with a little cream and sugar to intensify the flavor, or with a drop of lime or
lemonjuice to bring in a tart and bitter tinge.
The ilama fruit is either cone-shaped, heart-shaped, or ovular. Resembling the
cherimoya, it is about 6 inches (15 cm) long and may weigh as much as two pounds (900 g). Generally, the ilama is dotted with more or less pronounced, triangular spikes that jut out of the fruit, though some fruits on the same tree may vary from rough to fairly smooth.
There are two types of ilama, green and pink. The green type has a flesh that is white and sweet, while in the pink type, the flesh is a rose color and has a tart taste.
rind, or skin of the ilama varies from a pale-green color to a deep-pink or purplish color. The ilama is coated with a thick mat of velvety, gray-white bloom. It is about 1/4 inch thick (6 mm), leathery, fairly soft, and granular.
The center of both ilamas are somewhat fibrous but smooth and custardy near the rind. The flesh varies from being dry to being fairly juicy, and contains 25 to 80 hard, smooth, brown, cylindrical seeds, about 3/4 inch (2 cm)long, and 3/8 inch (1 cm) wide. Each seed is enclosed in a close-fitting membrane that, when split, slides right off of the seed.
The tree that produces the ilama stands erect at about 25 feet (7.5m), and often the branches begin at ground level. The tree is distinguished by its aromatic, pale-brownish-grey, furrowed bark and glossy, thin, elliptic to
obovateor oblanceolateleaves, 2 to 6 inches (5-15cm) long. Clasping the base of the flowering branchlets are one or two leaf-like, nearly circular, glabrous bracts, about 1 to 1-3/8 inches (2.5 - 3.5cm) in length. New growth from the tree is a reddish or coppery color. The flowers of the ilama tree are long and solitary. They are maroon flowers, which open to the base, and have small rusty hairy sepals, narrow, blunt, minutely hairy outer petals, and stamen-like, pollen-bearing inner petals.
The tree that bears the ilama is harvested in late June in Mexico and only lasts a couple of weeks. In Guatemala, the harvest season extends from late July to September, and from July to December where the Ilama is cultivated in
According to tradition, the fruits are not to be picked until cracking occurs, but they can be picked a little earlier and held up to three days in order for softening to take place. If the ilama is picked too early, it will never ripen. The yield of the ilama is typically low. During the normal fruiting period, some trees will have no fruits; others only 3 to 10, while exceptional trees may bear as many as 85 to 100 fruits per season.
Francisco Hernandezwas one of the first people to document the ilama. He was sent by King Phillip IIof Spainin 1570to take note of the useful products of Mexico. For many years, people confused it with the soursopor the custard apple.
The ilama is native and grows wild in the foothills of the southwest coast of Mexico and of the
Pacificcoast of Guatemalaand El Salvador. It is strictly a tropical plant. It does not grow naturally higher than 2,000 feet (610 m) in Mexico; although in El Salvador it is cultivated at 5,000 feet (1,524 m), and in Guatemala, it is cultivated up to 5,900 feet (1,800 m). The ilama survives best in climates where there is a long dry season followed by plentiful rainfall. The tree is irrigated in areas where rainfall does not fall periodically.
According to analyses made in El Salvador, the
food valueper 100 g of edible portion of the fruit is as follows:
Moisture, 71.5 g
Protein, 0.447 g
Fat, 0.16 g
Fiber, 1.3 g
* Ash, 1.37 g
Calcium, 31.6 mg
Phosphorus, 51.7 mg
Iron, 0.70 mg
Carotene, 0.011 mg
Thiamine, 0.235 mg
Riboflavin, 0.297 mg
Niacin, 2.177 mg
Ascorbic Acid, 13.6 mg
*Davidson, Alan. Oxford Companion to Food (1999). "Ilama", pp. 395-396.
* [http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/ilama.html The Ilama] -
* [http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/ilama.htm Trade Winds Fruit Ilama Page]
* [http://www.crfg.org/photocon/1998-3d.html 1998 CRFG Photo Contest Third Place: Genova Red Ilama]
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