Atis is cultivated throughout the Philippines and is occasionally spontaneous. It was introduced from tropical America by the Spaniards at an early date and is now pantropic in cultivation.
The plant is a small tree to 3 to 5 meters in height. The leaves are somewhat hairy when young, oblong and 8 to 15 centimeters in length, with a petiole 1 to 1.5 cm long. The flowers occur singly in the axils of the leaves and are about 2.5 cm. long. They are pendulous, hairy , three angeld, and greenish-white or yellowish. The fruit is large, somewhat heart-shaped, and 6 to 9 cm in length. The outside of the fruit is marked by polygonal tubercles. When the fruit is ripe, it is a light yellowish green. The flesh is white, sweet, soft and juicy and has a mild, very agreeable flavor.
Atis is a favorite fruit of the Filipinos. It is very refreshing and may be eaten raw or made into an excellent ice-cream. According to Burkill the fermented fruit seems to be used in the West Indies to make a kind of cider.
From the leaves Trimurti obtained an alkaloid-a white powdery base in the amount of 0.4 per cent calculated as chloropiatinate. He adds that the seeds contain an alkaloid; neutral resin 0.56%; fixed oil 14% (with glycerides of linolic, oleic, palmitic, stearic and cerotic acids). Reyes and Santos isolated from the bark an alakaloid, anonaine, melting at 122-123 degrees celcius, similar to the alkaloid, isolated by Santos in Anona reticulate. Santos, in his re-study of the alkaloid, changed the formula C17H16NO3, which he had assigned to anonaine, to C17H17NO3. Burkill reports that the seeds contain 45 % of a yellow, nondrying oil and an irritant poison which kills lice. Bernegau states that the flesh of the fruit contains pwards of 10% of sugars, mostly glucose (5.4%) and some fructose (3.6%)
In the Philippines the leaves are applied as a poultice to children with dyspepsia. Crushed seeds with coconut oil are applied on the scalp to rid it of lice. A decoction of the seeds is used as an enema for children wit dyspepsia.
According to Sanyal and Ghose, externally, the leaves, the unripe fruit and the seeds (which contain acrid principle), posses vermicidal and insecticidal properties. The crushed seeds in a paste with water, are applied to the scalp to destroy lice. The same are used as abortifacient if applied to the os uteri in pregnant women. The bruised leaves with salt make a good cataplasm to induce suppuration. The fresh leaves crushed between the fingers and applied to the nostrils cut short fits and fainting. The ripe fruit bruised and mixed with salt, is applied as a maturant to malignant tumors to hasten suppuration. The unripe fruit is astringent, and is given in diarrhea, dysentery and atonic dyspepsia.
The bark, according to Nadkarni is considered a powerful astringent and tonic. The leaves are used as an antihelmintic.
The seeds area considered a powerful irritant to the conjunctiva.
The roots are considered a drastic purgative.
Source: Medicinal Plants of the Philippines, Dr. Eduardo Quisumbing