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.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Plants