Annona reticulata is a low, erect tree, with a rounded or spreading crown and trunk 25-35 cm thick. Height ranges from 5-10 m. The ill-smelling leaves are deciduous, alternate, oblong or narrow-lanceolate, 10-20 cm long, 2-5 cm wide, with conspicuous veins.
Flowers, in drooping clusters, are fragrant, slender, with 3 outer fleshy, narrow petals 2-3 cm long; light-green externally and pale-yellow with a dark-red or purple spot on the inside at the base.
The flowers never fully open. The compound fruit, 8-16 cm in diameter, may be symmetrically heart-shaped, lopsided, irregular, or nearly round, or oblate, with a depression at the base.
Fruits, once mature, can be cleaned and the pulp frozen for many months for future use. If close to salt water, protect sugar apples from direct ocean spray since this may cause burning of the thin leaves.
The skin, thin but tough, may be yellow or brownish when ripe, with a pink, reddish or brownish-red blush, and faintly, moderately, or distinctly reticulated. There is a thick, cream-white layer of custard-like, somewhat granular, flesh beneath the skin surrounding the concolorous moderately juicy segments, in many of which there is a single, hard, dark-brown or black, glossy seed, oblong, smooth, less than 1.25 cm long. Actual seed counts have been 55, 60 and 76. A pointed, fibrous, central core, attached to the thick stem, extends more than halfway through the fruit.