Pond Apple (Annona glabra) is also called custard apple and alligator apple. The later name is attributed to the fact that alligators sometimes eat the apples.
Annona glabra is native to Florida, where it grows in very moist soil. It is salt tolerant. The tree grows in swamps and wet hammocks; it is common in the Everglades. At the Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Center, you will see it growing along the edges of the mangrove estuary and the banks of the Smith Preserve filter marsh.
A tree grows to a height of 32 to 39 feet. The trunk is thin and gray and several trunks often grow as a clump. As seen in the first photograph, the leaves are ovate to oblong and have a sharp tip.
As the next two photographs show, the tree has cream-white to yellow flowers.
After flowering, the fruit develops. A fruit is oblong to spherical and apple-sized or larger, as shown at right. After maturing, a fruit falls off the tree and floats to a new location. Inside the fruit are 100 or more seeds shaped like pumpkin seeds.
The fruit is edible to humans and tastes something like ripe honeydew melon. People use the apples to make jams and fruit drinks.
In addition to alligators and humans, bears and raccoons also like eating the apples.
© Photographs and text by Susan Leach Snyder (Conservancy of Southwest Florida Volunteer).
Please report errors to Susan Snyder @ email@example.com