Currently, the custard apple is widely cultivated as a fruit tree throughout tropical and subtropical areas, including southern Florida, South Asia, the South Pacific, some areas of central and western India, and in the Deccan Peninsula. Although Netherlanders introduced it to Taiwan in the 17th century, where it was first planted in the south, it was not popular because of its small fruits and low yield. However, in the 1980s cultivation began in Taitung county, in the southeast of Taiwan, where the climate and soil are suitable for the growth of the plants.
Phytochemical studies on custard apple were initiated in 1924. More than 400 compounds have been isolated from different tissues of the plant, and most of them can be classified into four major groups: alkaloids, annonaceous acetogenins, cyclic peptides, and ent-kaurane diterpenoids. Some of them have shown interesting pharmacological activities (Yang et al., 2008). Annonaceous acetogenins, a new class of compounds isolated from the seeds, have been reported to have potent antibacterial, anti-ovulatory, anti-inflammatory, antithyroidal, and other activities. Interestingly, annonaceous acetogenins have shown antitumor activity (Pardhasaradhi et al., 2005; Liu et al., 2007).
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