Carambola - Averrhoa carambola L.
Carambola
Fig. 1 magnifying glass

Ripe carambola fruit
Fig. 2 magnifying glass

Kamrakh Averrhoa carambola in Kolkata, West Bengal, India
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Kamrakh Averrhoa carambola in Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Stages of ripeness
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Stages of ripeness

Vertical view, side and cross section profiles
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Vertical view, side and cross section profiles

Kamrakh Averrhoa carambola in Kolkata, West Bengal, India.
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Leaf habit

Flower
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Averrhoa carambola flowers
Fig. 8 magnifying glass

Averrhoa carambola Oxalidaceae, flower habit
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Averrhoa carambola, Oxalidaceae
Flower habit

Inflorescense
Fig. 13 magnifying glass

Fruit forming
Fig. 14 magnifying glass
Fruit forming

Carambola fruit and flowers
Fig. 15 magnifying glass

Carambolas, Arkin variety, unripe fruit
Fig. 16 magnifying glass
Carambolas, 'Arkin' variety, unripe fruit

Averrhoa carambola fruit ripening
Fig. 20 magnifying glass

Different stages of ripening for 'Kajang' variety
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Different stages of ripening for 'Kajang' variety

Carambola trees are very prolific
Fig. 22 magnifying glass
Carambola trees are very prolific

Tree habit for 'Fang Tung' variety
Fig. 23 magnifying glass
Carambola Averrhoa Carambola 'FwangTung'. Visit to Palma Sola Botanical Park.

Carambola trunk of a young tree
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Carambola trunk of a young tree

Trunk of a mature tree, Kamrakh Averrhoa carambola in Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Fig. 28 magnifying glass

Averrhoa carambola (Star fruit, carambola). Fruit from Pali o Waipio at Hawea Pl Olinda, Maui, Hawaii
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Averrhoa carambola (Star fruit, carambola). Fruit from Pali o Waipio at Hawea Pl Olinda, Maui, Hawaii

Monkey and carambola fruit
Fig. 30 magnifying glass

Red Vented Bulbul feasting on carambola
Fig. 31 magnifying glass
Red Vented Bulbul feasting on carambola

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Scientific name
Averrhoa carambola L.
Common names
Creole (Blinblin long, Ziblinn long ,Karambola, Kònichon peyi); English (Foreign
peach, Carambola, Five Corners, Star Pickle, Star Fruit, Chinese Star Fruit, Five Angled 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 (Carambolera or Caramboler or árbol de pepino) 4
Synonyms
Averrhoa acutangula Stokes; Sarcotheca philippica (Villar) Hallier f. 8
Relatives
Bilimbi (Averrhoa bilimbi L.)
Family
Oxalidaceae
Origin
Southeast Asia
Uses
Fresh fruit; landscape value for foliage, flowers and unusual fruit shape
Height
22-33 ft (7-10 m)
Spread
20-25 ft in diameter (6-7.6 m)
Crown
Bushy canopy; broad; round
Plant habit
Small evergreen tree; symmitrical shape
Growth rate
Fast if in a location protected from winds
Longevity
Relatively long-lived; 10 year old trees bear heavy crops
Trunk/bark/branches
Single or multi-trunked
Pruning requirement
Selective pruning to maintain tree at 6-12 ft (1.8-3.6 m); culling will yiedl larger fruit
Leaves
Edible; evergreen; compound 6-12 in. (15-30 cm); arranged alternately on branch; each has 5-12 leaflets
Flower
Edible; small; rose colored; fragrant; flowers several times a year
Fruit
Yellow with wax-like surface; sides deeply ridged; cross section is star shaped; borne on trunk/branches
Season
Generally from June through February with peaks in fruit production during August through September and December through February 1
USDA Nutrient Content pdf
Light requirement
Sun or semi-shade
Soil tolerances
Adapted to many types of well drained soils
PH preference
4.5-7.0
Drought tolerance
Limited tolerance
Flood tolerance
Moderately tolerant of excessively wet or flooded soil conditions for about 2 to 10 days 1
Wind tolerance
Not tolerant of windy conditions
Aerosol salt tolerance
Intolerant
Soil salt tolerance
Intolerant
Cold tolerance
Trees generally stop growing at temperatures below 65°F (18 °C) ; mature trees may be killed at temperatures of 20-24 °F (-6.6 to -4.4 °C) 1
Plant spacing
20-30 ft or more (7.6-9.1 m)
Invasive potential *
Not a problem species (un-documented)
Pest resistance
Carambola trees are attacked by a number of scale insects
Known hazard
People who have been diagnosed with kidney disease should not eat carambola (star fruit) unless their doctor says that it is safe for them to eat. This fruit may contain enough oxalic acid to cause a rapid decline in renal function 1

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Reading Material

Carambola Growing in the Home Landscape from the University of Florida pdf 8 pages
Carambola from Julia Morton's book Fruits of Warm Climates
Carambola from the California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.
Averrhoa carambola from the World Agroforestry Center



Origin

The carambola is believed to have originated in Ceylon and the Moluccas but it has been cultivated in southeast Asia and Malaysia for many centuries. 2
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. 10

Description
The carambola tree is classified as an evergreen and is in the Oxalidaceae family. It is a plant that is indigenous to India and Southeast Asia and was first introduced into Florida over a century ago. The tree is small to medium in height (22 to 33 feet), has a spreading canopy, and is either single or multi-trunked. The majority of the fruit production occurs in the middle of the canopy. Compound leaves are alternate, with five to twelve leaflets per leaf. The fruit are star-shaped in cross section with generally five longitudinal ribs. Edible seeds encased in a gelatinous case are produced in the ribs. The star fruit berry may range from two to six inches in length, and does not produce sugar after picking. Consequently, sweetest fruit are tree-ripened. The crop is considered mature when the color begins to “break” from green to gold between the ribs. 3

'Sri Kembangem' carambola tree habit'Cary' carambola tree habitClear an area of your tree to check on the ripening of your fruit
Fig. 24 magnifying glass Fig. 25 magnifying glass Fig. 26 magnifying glass

Fig. 24.  Carambola Averrhoa Carambola 'Sri Kembangem'. Visit to Palma Sola Botanical Park.
Fig. 25. 'Cary' carambola tree habit
Fig. 26. Carambola fruit grows under the canopy; clear an area to be able to check on the ripening of your fruit

Flowers
Carambola flowers are borne on panicles on twigs, or small-diameter branches, and occasionally on larger wood. The flowers are perfect, small (3/8 inch or 1 cm in diameter) and pink to lavender in color. They have 5 petals and sepals. Depending upon the cultivar, carambola flowers have either long or short styles. 1

Flowering and Fruit Development of the 'Arkin' Carambola

Inflorescense close upAverrhoa carambola flowers; in TongaInflorescense
Fig. 9 magnifying glassFig. 10 magnifying glassFig. 11 magnifying glass

Fig. 9. Averrhoa carambola flowers; in Tonga

Fruit
The fruit is a fleshy, 4- to 5-celled berry with a waxy surface. Fruit are 2 to 6 inches (5-15 cm) in length, with 5 (rarely 4-8) prominent longitudinal ribs. They are star-shaped in cross section. The fruit skin is thin, light to dark yellow, and smooth, with a waxy cuticle. The pulp is light to dark yellow in color, translucent, crisp, very juicy, and without fiber. Desirable varieties have an agreeable, subacid to sweet flavor. Fruit are sweetest when allowed to ripen on the tree. 1

Fruit Set in Carambola from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia
Oxalic Acid Content of Carambola and Bilimbi from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia

Unripe fruitUnripe fruitCarambola ripe fruit, flowers and leaves
Fig. 17 magnifying glass Fig. 18 magnifying glass Fig. 19 magnifying glass

Fig. 18. Unripe fruit, a relish may be made of chopped unripe fruits combined with horseradish, celery, vinegar, seasonings and spices 2
Fig. 19. Carambola ripe fruit, flowers and leaves

Varieties
There are 2 distinct classes of carambola–the smaller, very sour type, richly flavored, with more oxalic acid; the larger, so-called "sweet" type, mild-flavored, rather bland, with less
oxalic acid. 2

List of Cultivars for Florida
Carambola Varieties from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia

Harvesting
The mid-canopy area (3 to 7 ft high; 0.9 to 2.1 m) is the major fruit-producing area of mature
trees. It takes about 60 to 75 days from fruit set to maturity depending upon variety, cultural practices, and weather. 1
Carambola trees grown in wind-protected areas may begin to produce fruit within 10 to 14 months after planting. Generally, 10 to 40 lbs (4.5 to 18 kg) of fruit per year per tree can be expected during the first two to three years. As trees mature, fruit production will increase rapidly so that by years 5 and 6, 100 to 150 lbs (45 to 68 kg) of fruit per tree can be expected. Mature trees 7 to 12 years old may produce 250 to 350 lbs (112 to 160 kg) of fruit or more per year. 1
Carambola: Postharvest Quality-Maintenance Guidelines from the University of Hawaii pdf

Pollination

All the flowers on a given carambola variety have either long or short styles; this condition is called heterostyly. Some carambola cultivars may require cross pollination (short-styled by long-styled cultivar or vice versa) for good fruit set and yields. However, varieties such as 'Fwang Tung', 'Golden Star' and 'Arkin' produce abundant crops when planted in solid blocks, indicating that the need for cross pollination by opposing stylar types is not always necessary. Other varieties such as 'B-10' and 'B-17' produce more fruit when cross pollinated with another variety. 1

Propagation
Carambola cultivars are generally grafted on seedling rootstocks. Seedlings of 'Golden Star' appear to be better adapted to high-pH soils than are seedling rootstocks of 'Arkin'. Veneer grafting and chip budding during the time of most active growth have given good results. Actively growing, healthy carambola seedlings of ¼ inch in diameter (7 mm) are best for rootstocks. Graftwood should be taken from mature twigs on which leaves are still present and, if possible, when the buds are just beginning to grow. Alternatively, graftwood can be prepared 3 to 4 days ahead of grafting by removing the leaves. This will stimulate the buds to begin growing. 1

Pruning
Carambola trees that are annually pruned to limit their tree size to 12 ft or less generally will survive hurricane force winds without toppling. 1
During the first 1 to 2 years after planting, young trees should be pruned by tipping shoots in excess of 2 to 3 ft to increase branching. If desired, trees may be trained to a modified central leader or open center configuration. Mature trees may be selectively pruned to maintain trees at 6 to 12 ft (1.8 to 3.6 m) in height. 1

Pruning for production
Carambola trees are unique in that once a shoot and limb develop the ability to flower, they can flower repeatedly. Shoots gain the ability to flower after about 3 months. Pruning the willow-like long shoots (“whips”) or selecting a small diameter limb and removing all the lateral shoots from this limb to their bases will induce flowering in about 21 days and fruit approximately 70-80 days later. Flowering and fruiting may also be induced on whips by bending them from an upright position to a lateral position, clipping off the last 12 to 18 inches of growth, and clipping the leaves off but leaving a small (1/3 inch) piece of the petiole (leaf stem). 1

Irrigation
Young trees should be irrigated regularly to facilitate tree establishment and growth. Once trees begin to bear (1 to 2 years after planting), trees should be irrigated regularly from flowering through harvest. 1

Pests Page

Diseases Page

Food Uses
Ripe carambolas are eaten out-of-hand, sliced and served in salads, or used as garnish on avocado or seafood. They are also cooked in puddings, tarts, stews and curries. Carambola juice is served as a cooling beverage. To make jelly, it is necessary to use unripe "sweet" types or ripe sour types and to add commercial pectin or some other fruit rich in pectin such as green papaya, together with lemon or lime juice. The flowers are acid and are added to salads in Java; also, they are made into preserves in India. The leaves have been eaten as a substitute for sorrel. 2
The fruit flavour is enhanced by peeling off the ‘wing’ edges, which removes most of the oxalic acid. 4
Carambola also has edible flowers and leaves that are used like sorrel. The acid flowers are used in salads or used to make conserves. 7

Carambola Recipes from Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Virtual Herbarium
Carambola Recipes from the Taste-the-Tropics Cookbook
South Florida Tropicals: Carambola from the University of Florida pdf 5 pages

Medicinal Uses **
See Carambola from Julia Morton's book Fruits of Warm Climates

Other Uses
The acid types of carambola have been used to clean and polish metal, especially brass, as they dissolve tarnish and rust. The juice will also bleach rust stains from white cloth. Unripe fruits are used in place of a conventional mordant in dyeing. 2

General
Schnebly’s Winery in the Redland makes a carambola wine that they say tastes like a Pinot Grigio. 5
No fruit tree provides greater near-term gratification than the carambola. It is precocious and bears abundantly over substantial portions of the year. The tree is handsome and is an appropriate size for most residential uses. The fruit should not be judged based on the sour, prematurely picked fruit sold by supermarkets. When harvested from a good cultivar at peak ripeness, the fruit is delicious: crisp, refreshing and laden with sweet juice. 9

Further Reading
Crop Profile for Carambola in Florida from the Southern Region IPM Center pdf 8 pages
Carambola Culture from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia
Carambola: A Star(Fruit) on the Wall from Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
The Carambola from W. Popenoe's book Manual of Tropical and Subtropical Fruits
Carambola Botanical Art


List of Growers and Vendors

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Bibliography

1 Crane, Jonathan, H. "Carambola Growing in the Florida Home Landscape". edis.ifas.ufl.edu. This document is HS12, one of a series of the Horticultural Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date April 1994. Revised May 2007. Reviewed July 2013. Web. 28 Jan. 2014.
2 Morton, J. "Carambola". hort.purdue.edu. Fruits of warm climates. p. 125-128. 1987. Web. 28 Aug. 2014.
3 "Crop Profile for Carambola in Florida." ipmcenters.org. Southern Region IPM Center sponsored by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Jan. 2014. Web. 8 June 2016.
4 Orwa C, A Mutua, Kindt R , Jamnadass R, S Anthony. "Averrhoa carambola L." worldagroforestry.org. Agroforestree Database:a tree reference and selection guide version 4.0. 2009. Web. 8 June 2016.
5 Ledesma, Noris. "Carambola: A Star(Fruit) on the Wall." fairchildgarden.org.  Miami Herald. 10 Mar. 2013. Web. 8 June 2016.
6 Tasker, Georgia. "Starring a Winter Fruit." fairchildgarden.org. The Fairchild Blog. 18 Dec. 2012. Web. 8 June 2016.
Dean, Green. "Edible Flowers: Part Seventeen." eatttheweeds.com. Web. 16 June 2016.
'Averrhoa carambola L. synonyms." the plantlist.org. Web. 16 June 2016.
9  Boning, Charles R. Florida's Best Fruiting Plants- Native and Exotic Trees, Shrubs, and Vines. Pineapple Press, Inc. sarasota, Florida. Print.
10  Orwa C, A Mutua, Kindt R , Jamnadass R, S Anthony. "Averrhoa carambola L." worldagroforestry.org. Agroforestree Database:a tree reference and selection guide version 4.0. 2009. Web. 8 June 2016.

Photographs

Fig. 1 Storch, Hedwig. Carambola Malysia. 2008. commons.wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY-SA 3.0). Web. 18 June 2016.
Fig. 2,4,15,22,23,24,25 Robitaille, Liette. "Carambola 'Kary' Series." 2014. JPG File.
Fig. 3 Brunna F. Carambolas! 2010. flickr.com. Under  (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). Web. 20 June 2016.
Fig. 6,27 Garg, J.M.I. Kamrakh Averrhoa carambola in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. 2007. commons.wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY-SA 3.0) and GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2. Web. 18 June 2016.
Fig. 5 SMasters. Ripe Carambolas, also known as starfruit, the fruit of Averrhoa carambola tree: vertical, side and cross section profiles. The fruit in cross section is a five-pointed star, hence its name. 2010. commons.wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY-SA 3.0). Web. 25 Apr. 2016. 
Fig. 7,17,27 Kwan. Averrhoa carambola. 2008. natureloveyou.org. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.
Fig. 8,12 Carr, Gerald,D. Averrhoa carambola Oxalidaceae. N.d. botany.hawaii.edu. University of Hawaii, Botany Department, Manoa Campus Plants. Web. 3 Oct. 2014.
Fig. 9 Hernandez, Andres. Averrhoa carambola. 2012. flickr.com. Under (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). Web. 20 June 2016.
Fig. 10 Tauʻolunga. Averrhoa carambola flowers; in Tonga. 2007. commons.wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY-SA 3.0) and GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2. Web. 18 June 2016.
Fig. 11 Sarangib, Bishnu. Carambola inflorescense. 2013. pixabay.com. CC0 Public Domain. Web. 18 June 2016.
Fig. 13, Averrhoa carambola. N.d. Top Tropicals Tropical Plant Catalog. toptropicals.com. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.
Fig. 14,20 Maguire, Ian. 'Kajang' carambola. 2000. trec.ifas.ufl.edu. From the Tropical Fruit Photography Picture Archive. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.
Fig. 16 Bauer,Scott. Carambolas, 'Arkin' variety. 2007. commons.wikimedia.org. Web. 18 June 2016.
Fig. 18 Rigmarole. Carambola. 2005. flickr.com. Under (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). Web. 20 June 2016.
Fig. 19 Valll. Carambola ripe fruit, flowers and leaves. 2007. commons.wikimedia.org. Web. 18 June 2016.
Fig. 21 Howard, R.A. Averrhoa carambola L. N.d. mnh.si.edu. National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. Web. 18 June 2016.
Fig. 28 Starr, Forest and Kim. Averrhoa carambola (Star fruit, carambola). Fruit from Pali o Waipio at Hawea Pl Olinda, Maui, Hawaii. 2012. flickr.com. Under (CC BY 2.0). Web. 20 June 2016.
Fig. 30 Sarangib, Bishnu. Monkey and carambola. 2013. pixabay.com. CC0 Public Domain. Web. 18 June 2016.
Fig. 31 Sarangib, Bishnu. Red Vented Bulbul feasting on carambola. 2014.. pixabay.com. CC0 Public Domain. Web. 18 June 2016.

UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas
** Information provided is not intended to be used as a guide for treatment of medical conditions.

Published 12 Apr. 2014 LR. Last Update 20 June 2016 LR
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