from Agroforestree Database:a tree reference and selection guide version 4.0
by Orwa C, A Mutua, Kindt R , Jamnadass R, S Anthony
Averrhoa carambola L.
Local Names: Creole (blinblin
long,ziblinn long,karambola,kònichon peyi); English (foreign
peach,carambola,five corners,star pickle,star fruit); Filipino
(balimbing); French (cornichon du pays,blinblin
longue,carambolier,Carambolier vrai); German (Karambolaßaum);
Hindi (kamrakh,kamranga); Indonesian (belimbing manis); Khmer
(spö); Lao (Sino-Tibetan) (füang); Malay (belimbing manis);
Mandarin (yongt’o); Spanish
(carambole,Carambolo,carambold,jalea,carambola); Swahili (mbirimbi wa
kizungu); Thai (ma fueang); Vietnamese (khê)
Averrhoa carambola is a
small, evergreen, multistemmed tree 3-5 m high or rarely 10 m high,
attaining 15 cm diameter at the base; bark light brown, smooth or
Leaves alternate, pinnate, 15-25 cm long,
disposed more or less in a horizontal plane, shortly petiolate with 7-9
pendant leaflets; leaves have the peculiarity of being sensitive to
touch in the same way as certain Mimosa species.
in panicles 2-5 cm long in the axils of old leaves; flowers
pentamerous, with a calyx of 5 pink sepals surrounding the purple
corolla; androecium contains 5 fertile stamens and 5 staminoids;
gynoecium bears 5 slender united styles.
Fruit a large,
indehiscent berry, 5-8 cm long; with a characteristic shape in
cross-section resembling a 5-pointed star; yellowish-green, becoming
orange-yellow when ripe. Each cell of the fruit contains 5 arillate
The generic name is after Averrhoes (1126-98), the widely
known Arab Philosopher. The specific name, ‘carambola’, is
said to have come from Malabar and was adopted early by the Portuguese.
Habit at State nursery Kahului,
Leaves at State nursery Kahului, Maui,
Hawaii (Forest and Kim Starr)
Heterostyly and self-incompatibility occur in A. carambola.
Pollen grains are elongated or spherical; a suitable pollen viability
test would be in vitro pollen germination. A. carambola is insect
pollinated, the pollinators being honeybees and Diptera
species. Flowering continues throughout the year and fruit is available
most of the year. Seedling varieties should crop in 3- 8 years,
selected grafted varieties in only 1-2 years.
best in the hot, humid tropics but will tolerate some cool weather.
Young plants may be killed or badly damaged by frost, while mature
specimens can withstand temperatures as low as -3 deg. C for short
periods, with some damage to branches and leaves. They can also
tolerate dry periods and some wind if it is not too cold.
Altitude: 0-900 m
Temperature: 20-35 deg. C
Rainfall: annual 1800 mm
Soil type: Prefers deep, well-drained clay loams but can grow successfully on sandy soils and heavy clays.
Documented Species Distribution
Australia, Brazil, Cambodia,
China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, India, Israel, Japan, Laos,
Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Province of China, Thailand,
Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, US, Vietnam
map above shows countries where the species has been planted. It does
neither suggest that the species can be planted in every ecological
zone within that country, nor that the species can not be planted in
other countries than those depicted. Since some tree species are
invasive, you need to follow biosafety procedures that apply to your
Fruits are refreshing eaten fresh, mixed with other fruits, in salads,
or processed into drinks. They are also stewed, pickled or used for
chutney and jam. The fruit flavour is enhanced by peeling off the
‘wing’ edges, which removes most of the oxalic acid.
Because the fruit is extremely perishable it must be consumed locally.
Some Brazilian cultivars have a very high content of vitamin C as well
as an applicable amount of provitamin A.
Fuel: The wood is a suitable candidate for firewood.
Timber: The soft, whitish wood is sometimes used for timber.
Tannin/dyestuff: Unripe fruit of A. carambola contains potassium oxalate, which is used in dyeing.
Fruit can be a laxative on account of the oxalic acid it contains. It
is also used in traditional medicine for skin disorders and fevers.
Other products: In some countries, the fruit juice is used to remove stains, for example iron rust from linen cloth.
Ornamental: With its delicate, light-green foliage, small, pink flowers and prolific golden-yellow fruits, A. carambola is popular in homegardens and parks.
When young, A. carambola
is delicate and requires careful attention. Because it is a
fast-growing tree, it requires pruning and thinning of excess fruit at
an early stage. Good crops are harvested from grafted varieties when
they are 2- 3 years old. Yields of up to 900 kg/year are common for
storage behaviour is intermediate. The lowest safe mc is 12.3%; further
desiccation reduces viability. Cool temperatures damage the seeds.
Viability can be maintained for 6 months with partially dried seeds at
5 deg. C. There are approximately 15 000 seeds/kg.
Pests and Diseases
Caterpillars (Diacotrichia, Pingasa and Pseudoterpna) attack the flowers and young leaves. A. carambola fruit suffers from fruit fly maggots, particularly Dacus dorsalis (Southeast Asia), and fruit-piercing moth (Othreis spp., Australia); bagging prevents infestation. Leaf spot (Cercospora averrhoa)
and pink diseases (Corticium) affect the tree in Southeast Asia, but
postharvest rots are more serious: the slightest blemish invites
infection by Ceratocystis, Colletotrichum, Dothoriella and Phomopsis fungi.
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