Only a few years ago Graviolas (Annona muricata or soursop) were hardly known in Thailand. But since the first press reports about the anti-cancerous properties of soursop fruits and leaves appeared, there has been a Thailand wide Graviola frency. At Discovery Garden Pattaya you can see fully grown trees and learn about all the different uses to make of soursop fruits and the tea from the dried annona muricata leaves.
Roughly ten years ago a friend in Nong Khai gave me a single seed. He did not know what it was, but said, it was from South America and that it should bear edible fruits one day. I potted this very first unknown (annona muricata as I know now) seed and more or less forgot about it.
About four years later I had a fully grown soursop tree in my yard which is now known as Discovery Garden and is located slightly outside Pattaya. The very first time it fruited my “graviola” tree (as annona muricata is called in native Brazil) bore not less than 11 fruits which were surprising in shape, taste and weight. I especially liked the sour and sweet taste of the flesh and got interested in this plant and fruit that until then were unknown to me.
Soursop is known under many different names around the tropical world, is called guanabana in Spanish, sirsak in Indonesia, tiparang in Cambodia, French fruit in Laos. I like the Brazilian name graviola best. In Thailand annona muricata is called durian nam (water durian) and durian thet (foreign durian) in the South of the Kingdom where it has been cultivated to a minimal extend, probably coming from Malaysia over the border. These Thai names describe a certain similarity to durian in the shape, but there is no similarity at all in the taste.
Why have graviolas been hardly known in Thailand until recently? One reason is the fact, that the Kingdom at the gulf of Siam has never been colonized. It was the colonial masters that shifted interesting plants from one of their colonies to another and thus spread them around the world. You can see this pattern with many plants, be they potatoes, tomatoes, cocoa, coffee, sugar cane, rubber or in this case graviolas. One of the goals of Discovery Garden is it to highlight such colonial endeavors and patterns which have enormously enriched the world. Imagine the Italians without tomatoes, the Swiss without chocolates and Europe without potatoes.
Another important reason why annona muricata never was very well known or successful in Thailand or even the world as a whole, this fruit is not ideal for the supermarket due to it short life in the shelves. You have to pick it when it is still hard, not ripe. Then it will ripen within two to three days or it may not ripen at all. Once it is ripe, you have to process it quickly or it will rot fast. One fruit can weigh up to 3 kilos or more and contains up to 100 black seeds which have to be taken out. (The dried seeds turn from black to brown.) The white flesh can then be eaten in Muesli, tarts or can be processed into delicious jams, sherbets or ice creams which are for instance very popular in Brazil. The flesh can also be frozen or dried, but does not look very appealing in its dried form: brownish, slightly dirty. The ideal method of preserving soursop is freezing, and in its frozen form it could easily be sold in supermarkets worldwide.
Tea prepared from dried leaves is quite tasty by nature and does not need any sugar or stevia as sweetener at all. About 10 average leaves are boiled in 600 cc of water. The liquid is then reduced to a volume of 200 cc. The leaves are then taken out and half of the cooled liquid is consumed in the morning and the other half in the evening. At Discovery Garden you can get 120 g of dried soursop leaves for 400 Baht which covers the use of one person for one month. http://discovery-garden.net/?product=graviola-dry-leaves-100-g
Seedlings of soursop (annona muricata) can easily be grown from seeds, but the trees take about four years to mature and bear fruit. You can order seeds from our website: LINK. Besides graviola trees of all sizes and ages grown from seeds (inquiries firstname.lastname@example.org) we also have mature trees obtained through marcotting. Marcotting or layering is a common asexual or vegetative method of propagation. The advantage of this method is twofold: You can reproduce varieties, for instance varieties, which bear lots of tasty fruits and are pest resistant. And you can gain time, since mature plants that are properly propagated can bear fruits immediately.
To cultivate graviolas in Thailand on a large scale is a good business idea. Prices for fruits are high, a kilo can easily cost 400 Baht. The same applies to the dried soursop leaves. Properly dried annona muricata leaves reach very high prices nationally and internationally. If you plan to become a graviola farmer, visit Discovery Garden outside Pattaya for valuable insight.