custard-apple, common name for members of the Annonaceae, a family of shrubs, woody vines, and small trees of the tropics. The custard-apples ( Annona squamosa and A. reticulata ) and other members of the family bear a soft, sweet fruit popular in the tropics and have been transplanted from the Americas to the Old World. The pawpaw, or papaw ( Asimina triloba ), one of the few temperate species remaining from the more extensive range of the family in the past, is a shrub or small tree of E North America which also bears a sweet edible fruit. The name pawpaw is sometimes applied to the papaya, an unrelated plant. The custard-apple family is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Magnoliales.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.