Anodas, also called Katu Aatha in Sinhala, are a genus (Annona) of the custard apple tree family (Annonaceae). Anoda trees are originally native to South America and the West Indies, but they have become naturalized and quite familiar plants in Sri Lanka and other tropical countries in the Old World, too, since the Portuguese and Spanisch introduced them in the 16th century in Asia.
Sri Lanka has four varieties of dozens worldwide. All of them are mainly found in home gardens and some forests, they are usually not commercially cultivated for exports. Katu Anoda (Annona muricata) is also known as Soursop, it’s the most favoured Andoda fruit, growing in higher altitudes up to 1200 m. It can not stand frost. Soursop is a an evergreen tree that can grow to about 4 metres tall.Weli Anoda (Annona squamosa) is also called called Sweetsop od Sugar Apple. This second most widely cultivated Anoda fruit is definitely the sweetest one. English names of Matti Anoda (Annona reticulate) are Custard Apple and Bullock heart. The fouth species is Cherimoya (Annona Cherimola).
Anoda fruits are prickly and dark green and usually egg-shaped. Particularly Soursops, the largest Anoda fruits, have pure white sweet and sour flesh, which is very soft but firm and delicious. This it is why many Sri Lankans are fond of it. A ripe soursop can grow up to 30 cm in length. It's is usually scooped with a spoon, but also used for smoothie mixed with honey or milk or yogurt or ice cream. The sweet pulp is used to make juice, as well as candies. The seeded pulp, cut into bits, may be added to fruit cups or salads Unripe soursop can be used for preparations of curries.
Remarkably, the fruit from the Andes has made its way into Hindu mythology. Lord Rama and Lord Hanuman are said to have dined on soursop on their way to Sri Lanka, when they tried to free the kidnapped Sita Devi from the clutches of the Sri Lankan king Ravana.
Because of it’s nutrients, Anoda has become a much-valued medicine in Sri Lanka’s Ayurvedic tradition. Ayurveda makes use of almost all parts of the anoda tree. Katu Anoda is said to be the most potent for medicinal purposes. Various parts of it such as bark, leaves, roots and seeds have been used by traditional Ayurvedic practitioners in Sri Lanka to treat heart disease, asthma, liver problems and arthritis. The leaves, boiled into a tea, are believed to prevent prevent cancer. One of its cancer cure properties is “annonacin”, which is otherwise toxic when highly dosed. Overdose of natural medicine can be harmful anyway. Extracts from the leaves have also been successful in lowering elevated blood pressure in mainstream medicine.
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