Star fruit

Averrhoa carambola (Oxalidaceae)

Characteristics

Small deciduous tree, up to 10 m tall, short trunk with many branches. Leaves 15-25 cm long (5-10 ovate leaflets). Small lilac flowers. Orange-yellow fruit with a thin, waxy pericarp. Yellow flesh with juice when ripe. Fruit 5-15cm long. The entire fruit is edible (careful if you have kidney problems.

Distribution

Native to tropical Southeast Asia. Today, cultivated throughout tropical areas.

Natural Medical Properties

The 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.

It is valued by Chinese communities as a remedy for high blood pressure, whilst it is also said to reduce blood sugar levels and so is of help to diabetics.
The flowers are used to relieve coughs.The leaves are used to treat rheumatism.

The seed is emmenagogue, galactagogue and abortifacient.

The powdered seed is a good anodyne for treating asthma, colic and jaundice.

Did you know?

The fruit has distinctive ridges running down its sides (usually 5-6). When cut in cross-section, it resembles a star, giving its name as “Star fruit”.

The Star fruit is related (same family) to “Wood sorrel” (Oxalis sp.), a common edible wild plant.

Star fruits contain Caramboxin and Oxalic acid (see name of the family) and are therefore harmful to individuals suffering from kidney problems.

Further reading:

Literature

World Flora Online
WorldChecklist of Selected Plant Families
A working list of all plant species