Family AnnonaceaeAnnona senegalensis, commonly known as African custard-apple, wild custard apple, and wild soursop, is a species of flowering plant in the custard apple family, Annonaceae. The specific epithet, senegalensis, translates to mean "of Senegal", the country where the type specimen was collected.
A traditional food plant in Africa, the fruits of A. senegalensis have the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable land care. Well known where it grows naturally, it is largely unheard of elsewhere.
The primary use of this versatile plant is for food, but it has applications in numerous aspects of human endeavor, and every part of the plant has unique properties and uses.
The flowers, leaves and fruit are edible and culinary: white fruit pulp has a mild, pineapple-like flavor. Flowers are added to spice or garnish meals; leaves are eaten by humans as vegetables, or browsed by livestock. Leaves are also part of the diet of the West African giraffe.
The leaves are also used to create a general health tonic, in the treatment of pneumonia, and as mattress and pillow stuffing. Specific to Sudan, leaves are boiled in the making of perfume.
Bark can be processed to produce yellow-brown dye, insecticide, or medicine for treating a wide array of ailments, including worms parasitic on the intestines or flesh (notably guinea worms), diarrhea, gastroenteritis, lung infections, toothaches, and even snakebites. Natural gum in the bark is used to close open wounds.
Roots are also used medicinally in treating a gamut of conditions, from dizziness and indigestion to chest colds to venereal diseases.
Suckering shoots provide binding fibers, and the malleable, pale brown to white wood is used to carve tool handles, or fashioned into poles. Wood ash is an admixture to chewing tobacco and snuff, and also in soap production as solvent.
The essential oils in the fruits and leaves are valued for their organic chemical constituents: car-3-ene (in fruit) and linalool (from leaves).
Certain parts of A. senegalensis are used in treating skin or eye disorders.
Many South Africans believe the roots can cure insanity. Some Mozambicans feed them to infants to wean them from their mother's breast.