Bullock’s Heart

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

bullock’s heart the common W. Indian name for the fruit of Annona reticulata, a tree native to that region, which thrives in coastal and lowland regions and spread to C. America and S. Mexico in early times. Later, the Portuguese were largely responsible for disseminating it, via Africa, to other tropical areas, and it is now found in such areas all round the world.

The coloration of the fruit (reddish or brownish on the sunny side, dull yellow on the other) and its shape show enough resemblance to the heart of a bullock or other large mammal to justify the W. Indian name; but other names are often used. The fruit is generally regarded as having the best claim to the name custard apple, and this name would have priority if it were not applied in a confusing way to several other species. Other names in use are sweet sop (in contrast to the soursop), and even cherimoya (a misleading error, since the bullock’s heart has less flavour than that excellent fruit, and is also inferior to the sugar-apple).