|Star Apple, Caimito - Chrysophyllum cainito|
Chrysophyllum cainito (Star apple) Fruit. Olinda, Maui
Latex seeping from an immature fruit
Chrysophyllum cainito leaf
Chrysophyllum cainito (Star apple). Leaves. Pali o Waipio, Maui, Hawaii
Flower, buds and leaves
Chrysophyllum cainito (Star apple). Leaves, flowers. Ohialani Haiku, Maui, Hawaii
Chrysophyllum cainito (Star apple). Flowers leaves and immature fruit. Pali o Waipio, Maui, Hawaii
Young star apple tree
Chrysophyllum cainito (Star apple). Habit. Garden of Eden Keanae, Maui, Hawaii
Chrysophyllum cainito L. (Sapotaceae). Bandundu province, Congo
Tree growth habit
Pommes de lait (fruit de Chrysophyllum cainito) en vente au bord d'une route près de Vientiane, au Laos
Burmese (hnin-thagya); Cantonese (chicle durian); Creole (bon kaymit, kaymit fèy dò, kaymit fran, kaymit jaden, gran kaymit); English (golden leaf, West Indian star apple, caimito, star-apple, cainito); Filipino (kaimito); French (caïmitier à feuilles d’or, caïmitier, caïmite franche, caïmite des jardins, caimite, bon caïmite, pomme surette, grand caïmite); Indonesian (sawo kadu, sawo ijo, sawo hejo); Italian (cainito); Javanese (ijo, sawo ijo, sawo); Lao (Sino-Tibetan) (nam nom); Malay (sawu duren, hninthagya); Sinhala (chicle durian); Spanish (caimo, caimito, caimo morado, cainito, maduraverde); Thai (sata apoen); Vietnamese (c[aa]y v[us] s[uwx]a) 5
Achras caimito Ruiz & Pavon; Chrysophyllum cainito L.; C. cainito var. caeruleum Jacq.; C. cainito var. jamaicense (Jacq.) Bois; C. cainito var. jamaicense Jacq.; C. cainito var. martinicense Pierre ex Duss; C. cainito var. microphyllum Jacq.; C. cainito var. pomiferum (Tussac) Pierre; C. cainito var. portoricense A.DC. 7
Mamey sapote, Pouteria sapota; sapodilla, Manilkara zapota; abiu, P. caimito, and canistel, P. campechiana 6
West Indies and Central America 1
USDA hardiness zones
Tropical or near near-tropical
Fruit; shade tree; ornemental value
25-100 ft (7.9 to 30.5 m) 1
Round to oval canopy
Erect with a short trunk to 3 ft (1 m) thick 3
Branches have a weeping growth habit;
Annual pruning to maintain at 8-12 ft (2.4-3.7 m) 1
Evergreen; alternate; elliptic, 2-6 in. (5–15 cm); slightly leathery; shiny green on the upper surface and golden-brown on the lower surface 1
Very small; greenish-yellow to purplish-white; tubular (5-lobed corolla); 5–6 sepals; held in clusters, arising from the leaf axils 1
Round/oblate; 2-4 in. (5-10 cm); skin glossy, leathery; pulp white, soft; gelatinous; 6-11
Feb. to May
Grows successfully on almost all types of soil; needs good drainage
Aerosol salt tolerance
Poor salt tolerance
Soil salt tolerance
Poor salt tolerance
Damaged at 28 to 29°F (-1.6 to -2.2°C); killed 20s°F (-4 to -6°C) 1
25 ft (7.6 m) 1
Not a problem
Invasive potential *
In general, caimito trees have few insect pest problems; foliage, stems, and limbs may be attacked by red algae 1
Caimito Growing in the Florida Landscape from the University of Florida pdf 6 pages
Star Apple Culture from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia
Star Apple from Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Star Apple from Julia Morton's book Fruits of Warm Climates
The Star-Apple from W. Popenoe's book Manual of Tropical and Subtropical fruits
West Indies and Central America 1
The star apple its mostly appreciated as a fruit tree in home landscapes. It is a beautiful tree, making a perfect tree for landscaping in South Florida. The canopy opens forming an umbrella shape where the underside leaves shines with a golden brown color meanwhile the upper side shines with an emerald green color. 4
The tree is distinguished by its dense foliage of oval, glossy, dark green leaves with a coppery golden-coloured underside. 8
Fig. 9,11. Chrysophyllum cainito (Star apple). Haitian star apple leaf. Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery, Maui, Hawai
Fig. 10. Chrysophyllum cainito (Star apple). Leaves. Enchanting Floral Gardens of Kula, Maui, Hawaii
Small, inconspicuous flowers, clustered in the leaf axils, are greenish-yellow, yellow, or purplish-white with tubular, 5-lobed corolla and 5 or 6 sepals. 3
Fig. 18. Chrysophyllum cainito (Star apple). Leaves flowers. Ohialani Haiku, Maui, Hawaii
The fruit, round, oblate, ellipsoid or somewhat pear-shaped, 2 to 4 in (5-10 cm) in diameter, may be red-purple, dark-purple, or pale-green. It feels in the hand like a rubber ball. The glossy, smooth, thin, leathery skin adheres tightly to the inner rind which, in purple fruits, is dark-purple and 1/4 to 1/2 in (6-12.5 mm) thick; in green fruits, white and 1/8 to 3/16 in.(3-5 mm) thick. Both have soft, white, milky, sweet pulp surrounding the 6 to 11 gelatinous, somewhat rubbery, seed cells in the center which, when cut through transversely, are seen to radiate from the central core like an asterisk or many-pointed star, giving the fruit its common English name. The fruit may have up to 10 flattened, nearly oval, pointed, hard seeds, 3/4 in (2 cm.) long, nearly 1/2 in (1.25 cm) wide, and up to 1/4 in (6 mm) thick, but usually several of the cells are not occupied and the best fruits have as few as 3 seeds. They appear black at first, with a light area on the ventral side, but they dry to a light-brown. 3
It bears fruit year around after it reaches about seven years of age.
Fig. 23. Immature fruit
Fig. 24. Seed dry
Fig. 25. Seeds wet
Two distinct color types exist; purple and greenish yellow peel. A few varieties of caimito are in south Florida including 'Haitian Star', a purple peel type, and 'Blanco Star', a green peel type.
Star apples are generally in season from late winter or early spring to early summer. 3
Fruit do not fall when ripe and therefore must be harvested by hand when fully mature.
Fruit should be clipped from the stem because pulling the fruit off by hand may damage the peel next to the fruit stem (peduncle), which may lead to fruit rot. 1
Fruit are fully mature when the skin color turns a dull color (purple or green) and is slightly wrinkled and soft. Immature fruit will be astringent and inedible due to the gummy latex found in the flesh (Fig. 6). Once mature fruit are picked, they may be allowed to fully ripen at room temperature. Once ripe, fruit may be stored in the refrigerator until consumed. 4
The fruit is quite slow to pick, as each fruit has to be examined from above to ensure it has only a very small ring of green (about as big as your thumb nail) around the stem. Any greener than this and the Star Apple would contain unacceptable levels of latex and be lacking in flavour. 8
Some seedlings and cultivars (e.g., 'Haitian Star' and 'Blanco Star') do not need cross pollination to set fruit. However, some seedlings require cross pollination in order to set fruit. 1
Star apple trees are most widely grown from seeds which retain viability for several months and germinate readily. The seedlings bear in 5 to 10 years. Vegetative propagation hastens production and should be more commonly practiced. Cuttings of mature wood root well. Air-layers can be produced in 4 to 7 months and bear early. Budded or grafted trees have been known to fruit one year after being set in the ground. In India, the star apple is sometimes inarched on star apple seedlings. 3
Seed propagation can be used to develop new cultivars. The fruits of seedlings may not match the quality of its parent and in some cases you must wait many years before a seedling bears its first fruit. 4
Grafting caimito onto satin leaf (C. oliviforme) is reported to produce slow-growing,
dwarf trees. 1
Caimito is best adapted to hot, lowland tropical climates but will grow in warm, protected locations in south Florida. Trees exposed to air temperatures of about 40°F (4°C) accompanied by strong winds may defoliate. Young trees have limited cold tolerance and are damaged or killed at 31 to 32°F (-0.6 to 0°C). On mature trees, leaf and twig damage may occur at 28 to 29°F (-1.6 to -2.2°C), and large branches and trunk damage may occur at 26°F (-3.3°C). Mature trees may be killed when exposed to temperatures in the low 20s°F (-4 to -6°C). 1
Young caimito trees should be trained to form 3 to 5 main scaffold limbs during the first 2 to 3 years after planting. Mature trees should be maintained at 8 to 12 ft (2.4-3.7 m) by annual selective removal of poorly placed and upright limbs. 1
In the first years the branches should be tipped to encourage the formation of a bushy canopy. A canopy with many branches will bloom earlier than a canopy without pruning. Annual pruning of trees at a manageable height and provide ready access to the fruit. 4
Cultural Calendar for Mature Caimito Trees from the University of Florida
Fertilizer Program from the University of Florida
Caimito trees are susceptible to iron deficiency under alkaline and high-pH soil conditions. Iron deficiency can be prevented or corrected by periodic soil applications of iron chelates formulated for alkaline and high soil pH conditions. 1
In general, caimito trees have few insect pest problems. However, trees should be inspected regularly and treated for insect problems when they occur. 1
The foliage, stems, and limbs may be attacked by red algae (Cephaleuros virescens), causing stem and limb dieback. Leaves may also be attacked by various fungi (Phomopsis sp. and Phyllosticta sp.). Fruit may also be attacked, causing it to dry-rot (mummify) and be held on the tree. Please contact your local county cooperative extension agent for current control recommendations. 1
The fruits are delicious as a fresh dessert fruit. The ripe fruit, preferably chilled, may be merely cut in half and the flesh spooned out, leaving the seed cells and core. The sweet fruits are eaten raw and in desserts and salads. They are also boiled and made into preserves. An interesting drink called "matrimony" is prepared by scooping out the inside pulp of a star apple and adding it to a glass of sour orange juice. 4
The peel and rind of ripe caimito are inedible. Cutting the fruit transversely and then gently separating the two halves is an easy way to open the fruit. 1
Medicinal Uses **
The fruit of the pulp is used to sooth inflammation in laryngitis and pneumonia. It is given as a treatment for diabetes mellitus, and as a decoction is gargled to relieve angina.
In Venezuela, the slightly unripe fruits are eaten to overcome intestinal disturbances. In excess, they cause constipation. Tea from the leaves is used to treat chest and lung congestion. The bark is extremely bitter and is drunk as a tonic and stimulant, and is taken to halt diarrhea, dysentery and hemorrhages, and as a treatment for gonorrhea. The crushed seeds are eaten as a tonic, diuretic and to bring down fever. In Brazil, the latex of the tree is applied on wounds and, when dried and powdered, is given to cure worms. 3
The latex obtained by making incisions in the bark coagulates readily and has been utilized as an adulterant of gutta percha. It was formerly proposed as a substitute for wax on the shelves of wardrobes and closets. 3
The Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott immortalizes the fruit as a symbol of the Caribbean itself in his 1979 collection, The Star-Apple Kingdom. 2
A closely related species, the Satin-leaf Fruit (Chrysophyllum oliviforme), is grown for its fruit and as an ornamental. The small fruit is oblong in outline and has an objectionable rubbery skin. The purplish pulp, however, has a good flavor and can be used to make an excellent jelly.
Satinleaf, Olive Plum from Green Deane of Eat The Weeds and Other Things Too
Chrysophyllum cainito L. from the World Agroforestry Database
The Star Apple from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia (W. Whitman)
Caimito from the Tropical Fruit News magazine MRFC
The Big Pine Caimito from the Tropical Fruit News magazine MRFC
Star Apple Botanical Art
List of Growers and Vendors
1 Crane, Jonathan H. and Balerdi, Carlos F. "Caimito (Star Apple) Growing in the Florida Home Landscape." edis.ifas.ufl.edu. This document is HS1069, one of a series of the Horticultural Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date Jan. 2006. Revised Nov. 2016. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.
2 "Chrysophyllum cainito." wikipedia.org. N.d. Web. 24 Dec. 2014.
3 Morton, J. "Star Apple." hort.purdue.edu. Fruits of warm climates, p. 408-410. 1987. Web. 23 Dec. 2014.
4 Ledesma, Noris. "The star apple (Chrysophyllum cainito)." fairchildgarden.org. Miami Herald. 18 Apr. 2012. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.
5 Orwa C., A. Mutua, R. Kindt, R. Jamnadass and S. Anthony. "Chrysophyllum cainito L." worldagroforestry.org. Agroforestree Database: a tree reference and selection guide version 4.0. 2009. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.
6 Boning, Charles R. Florida's Best Fruiting Plants- Native and Exotic Trees, Shrubs, and Vines. Pineapple Press, Inc. sarasota, Florida. Print.
7 "Chrysophyllum cainito, synonyms." theplantlist.org. The Plant List (2010). Version 1. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.
8 Wheatley, Mark. "Star Apple Culture." rfcarchives.org.au. Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia. May 1989. Web. 23 Dec. 2014.
Fig. 1,2,4,5 Chrysophyllum cainito, Achras caimito. N.d. toptropicals.com. Top Tropicals Tropical Plant Catalog. Web. 24 Dec. 2014.
Fig. 3 Starr, Forest and Kim. Chrysophyllum cainito (Star apple) Fruit. Olinda, Maui. 2011. starrenvironment.com. Under (CC BY 4.0). Web. 24 Dec. 2014.
Fig. 6 Starr, Forest and Kim. Chrysophyllum cainito (Star apple). Fruit and pulp. (Latex seeping from an immature fruit). Enchanting Floral Gardens of Kula, Maui, Hawaii. 2012. starrenvironment.com. Under (CC BY 4.0). Web. 12 Apr. 2017.
Fig. 7,13,14,16,17,20,21,22,23,24,25 Chrysophyllum cainito. 2004. Environmental Sciences Program, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. biogeodb.stri.si.edu. Web. 25 Dec. 2014.
Fig. 8 Starr, Forest and Kim. Chrysophyllum cainito (Star apple). Leaves. Pali o Waipio, Maui, Hawaii. 2012. starrenvironment.com. Under (CC BY 4.0). Web. 11 Apr. 2017.
Fig. 9,11 Starr, Forest and Kim. Chrysophyllum cainito (Star apple). Haitian star apple leaf. Kula Ace Hardware and Nursery, Maui, Hawaii. 2007. starrenvironment.com. Under (CC BY 4.0). Web. 11 Apr. 2017.
Fig. 10 Starr, Forest and Kim. Chrysophyllum cainito (Star apple). Leaves. Enchanting Floral Gardens of Kula, Maui, Hawaii. 2010. starrenvironment.com. Under (CC BY 4.0). Web. 11 Apr. 2017.
Fig. 12 Cerlin Ng. Chrysophyllum cainito. 2014. flickr.com. Under (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). Web. 12 Apr. 2017.
Scamperdale. Chrysophyllum cainito L. (Sapotaceae). Bandundu province, Congo. 2007. flickr.com. Under (CC BY-NC 2.0). Web. 12 Apr. 2017.
Fig. 16,18 Starr, Forest and Kim. Chrysophyllum cainito (Star apple). Leaves flowers. Ohialani Haiku, Maui, Hawaii. 2016. starrenvironment.com. Under (CC BY 4.0). Web. 11 Apr. 2017.
Fig. 19 Starr, Forest and Kim. Chrysophyllum cainito (Star apple). Flowers, leaves and immature fruit. Pali o Waipio, Maui, Hawaii. 2012. starrenvironment.com. Under (CC BY 4.0). Web. 11 Apr. 2017.
Fig. 26 Robitaille, Liette. "Star Apple Series". 2014. growables.org. File JPG
Fig. 27 Starr, Forest and Kim. Chrysophyllum cainito (Star apple). Habit. Garden of Eden Keanae, Maui. 2011. starrenvironment.com. Under (CC BY 4.0). Web. 24 Dec. 2014.
Fig. 28 Samperdale. Chrysophyllum cainito L. (Sapotaceae). Bandundu province, Congo. flickr.com. Under (CC BY-NC 2.0). Web. 11 Apr. 2017.
Fig. 29,30 Kwan. Chrysophyllum cainito. 2008. natureloveyou.sg. Web. 24 Dec. 2014.
Fig. 31 Hurst, Steve. Chrysophyllum cainito L. Star apple. 2014. plants.usda.gov. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA. Web. 24 Dec. 2014.
Fig. 32 Chaoborus. Pommes de lait (fruit de Chrysophyllum cainito) en vente au bord d'une route près de Vientiane, au Laos. 2010. commons.wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY-SA 3.0) and GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.
* 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 23 Dec. 2014 LR. Last update 20 Apr. 2017 LR