Selected Trees and Shrubs
Averrhoa carambola, Common name: Carambola, Star Fruit
Plant Family: Belongs to the Oxalidaceae family, which includes Bilimbi or Cucumber Fruit (Averrhoa bilimbi).
Description: Small to medium size, slow growing tree, up to 11 m tall (35 ft); specimens seen in economic section of Gardens; leaves alternate, odd-pinnately compound with 3 to 11 ovate leaflets; flowers small, variegated white and purple, fragrant, born in cymose inflorescences in leaf axils or laterally on stems; fruit an edible berry, ovoid, fleshy, a 5-pointed-star in cross-section, 8-13 cm long (3-5 in); ripe fruit yellow, aromatic, very juicy, with sweet-acid taste; one variety has sweet, sub-acid fruit, increasingly seen in metropolitan markets.
Natural Habitat: Warm tropics from sea level to 2000ft, growing successfully on soils ranging from sands to clays; propagation usually by seed, but budding and grafting possible, and generally preferable for propagation of sweet variety; seedling trees fruit in 4-6 years, grafted trees in under a year.
Origin and Distribution: Has never been found in the wild, but native to Indonesia and long cultivated in India and Southeast Asia.
Uses: Fruit used for jams and jellies; sweet-acid varieties make a pleasant drink; the sweet sub-acid variety is eaten fresh; the star-shaped sections are used in salads and as an attractive garnish; the juice reportedly removes stains from silk; tree also makes an attractive ornamental.
Anon. [Joseph Jones?]. Official Guide to the Botanic Gardens, Dominica. Kew Gardens, London 1924?
H.F. Macmillan. Tropical Planting and Gardening. Macmillan, London 1956
William C. Kennard and Harold F. Winters. Some Fruits and Nuts for the Tropics. USDA, Washington, DC 1960
C.D. Adams. Flowering Plants of Jamaica. University of the West Indies, Mona, Glasgow University Press 1972
Robert A. DeFilipps. Useful Plants of the Commonwealth of Dominica, West Indies. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 1998
Victor Ho-a-Shu. Common Fruits of Guyana. National Agricultural Research Institute, Guyana, SA 2003
Averrhoa carambola: Star Fruit. Trade Winds Fruit, Encinitas, CA, downloaded March 2007 (tradewindsfruit.com)
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