Averrhoa carambola

Averrhoa carambola


Star-fruit or Carambola.


Over the years I have had a lot interest in the summer as my five Starfruit plants flower and set fruit though my reference books say that fruiting can occur throughout the year. Mine tend to set fruit over the summer and they ripen over the winter. Fruiting can be variable from nothing to what we had in winter 2015, a huge crop.

My trees were planted about 1993 and it took ten years to start flowering. I had assumed that it is too cold for flowering but now I am proven wrong. Because they ripen over the winter they do tend to get marked though you do get perfect ones.

If you have been to the tropics you probably would have come across these showy, 5 to 6 angled, waxy, yellow skinned fruits. They are usually cut into crisp slices resembling yellow stars and used as decorations with tropical meals or eaten raw. They also can be used in puddings, tarts, stews and curries. Their flavour is refreshing and fragrant and can be from bland to tart to sweet depending on the variety. They are very juicy, have little fibre and are a source of vitamin C. People who have kidney problems shouldn’t eat them as they contain oxalic acid. Because of the oxalic acid it is advisable not to eat too many at once. Two is ample for me. Leaves and flowers are sometimes used in salads.

The flowers are small, pink with a magenta throat and in red stemmed clusters. Mine are showing in leaf axils but as the tree gets bigger they form on the trunks where flower clusters form every year. Flowering can happen throughout the year.

Interestingly the genus belongs to the Oxalis family (Oxalidaceae) which is surprising as Oxalis don’t look as if they should have a tree growing up to nine metres high in their family.

It is not known exactly where Carambola originated as they have been cultivated in Asia, Malaysia and India for many centuries but it is thought to be Indonesia.

The tree is slow growing, multi-branched and needs good drainage, a warm protected position and full sun.