Lucuma appears to have been cultivated since ancient times by the various indigenous races of the highlands of parts of Chile, Peru and Ecuador. It was an important offering to the gods and even now it is still respected by native cultures. The Ayacucho and Cajamarcan people both have powerful beliefs associated with the trees which are also still a major part of their diets.
Lucuma trees are depicted on pre-Columbian ceramics found at indigenous burial sites in oastal Peru far from where it can be successfully cultivated. This suggests it has been a popular fruit traded between cultures for a long time. It was certainly well known to the Inca (from whose language, Quechua, we get the name Lucuma) and was cultivated by them when the Europeans invaded.
Lucuma was documented by the Europeans in 1531 as growing in Ecuador. It appears in the botanical record again in 1776 when it was presumed exclusively grown in northern Chile. However in 1915 seeds were taken on behalf of the United States Government from Ollantaytambo, a mysterious pre-Incan megalithic city fotress. This suggests that either Lucuma production declined throughout the initial European invasion of the Americas or it's seemingly sporadic appearance is a result of patchy research. Either way it was not quickly adopted by the invaders and has become known as one of the “lost crops of the Inca”.
Today both Lucma production and demand is on the rise. In Peru Lucuma ice cream is believed to be more popular than vanilla, strawberry or chocolate!