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Averrhoa carambola - L.

Common Name Carambola, Star Fruit
Family Oxalidaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The fruit contain soluble oxalates.
Habitats Humid forests and woodland on sandy loam[ 307 ].
Range E. Asia - Malaysia.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Averrhoa carambola Carambola, Star Fruit

Averrhoa carambola Carambola, Star Fruit


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Carambola, Averrhoa carambola, is a tropical, evergreen, small tree or shrub native to Southeast Asia and Indian Subcontinent. It reaches up to 5-12 m tall when fully matured. Its flowers are red-purple in color, small, and bell shaped. The plant is known for its edible fruit and for medicinal uses. The orange-yellow, star-shaped fruit can be eaten raw or pickled and made into jelly, juice, and jam. However, it contains oxalic acid which can be toxic if consumed in high amount. It also contains caramboxin, a neurotoxin that usually has an intoxication effects on dialysis and uremic patients. The flowers can also be eaten raw and usually added to salads. The leaves are also edible, eaten either raw or cooked. Medicinally, the fruit acts as a laxative and is used in traditional medicine against fever, skin disorders, high blood pressure, and diabetes. The leaves, on the other hand, are used as relief from rheumatism; the flowers against coughs, and the seed against asthma, colic, and jaundice. Carambola has other various uses such as stain remover and brass polish (fruit juice), dye (unripe fruits), and construction materials (wood). Other Names: Balimbieng manih, Balimbing, Balingbing, Belimbing manis, Belimbing sagi, Blimbing alas, Coromandel, Five-cornered fruit, Fivesider, Fuang, Kamarakh, Kamaranga, Kamrakh, Kamranga, Kam rangthai, Karambola, Kardoi, Khe, Kordoi, Ma fueang, Ma-fueng, Mafen, Mafuang, Moyabo, Sonosambal, Spo, Spu, Star Fruit, Wi ni Idia.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Averrhoa carambola is an evergreen Tree growing to 8 m (26ft) by 8 m (26ft) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10 and is frost tender. The flowers are pollinated by Bees, Flies, Butterflies. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Averrhoa acutangula Stokes.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Fruit  Leaves
Edible Uses: Condiment

Edible portion: Fruit, Flowers, Leaves. Fruit - raw. The fruit is crisp and juicy with a waxy yellow skin when ripe[ 296 ]. The best forms are delicious on their own, they also go very well in fruit salads, juiced and mixed with other fruits etc[ 296 ]. The fruit flavour is enhanced by peeling off the 'wing' edges, which removes most of the oxalic acid[ 303 ]. A quince-like fragrance[ 200 ]. Plants can produce fruit all year round[ 296 ]. Fruit quality is variable, though they are normally juicy. Sour forms, and slightly immature fruits, are pickled or made into a relish[ 301 ]. The orange-yellow fruit is a large, indehiscent berry, 5-8 cm long with a characteristic shape in cross-section resembling a 5-pointed star[ 303 ]. The fruit is up to 12.5cm x 6cm[ 200 ]. Flowers - raw[ 301 ]. An acid flavour, they are added to salads[ 301 ]. They can also be made into conserves[ 301 ]. Leaves - raw or cooked[ 301 ]. An acid flavour, they are used as a sorrel substitute[ 301 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Abortifacient  Antiasthmatic  Antirheumatic  Antitussive  Emmenagogue  Febrifuge  Galactogogue  Hypotensive  

The fruit can be a laxative on account of the oxalic acid it contains[ 303 ]. It is also used in traditional medicine for skin disorders and fevers[ 303 , 348 ]. 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[ 307 ]. The flowers are used to relieve coughs[ 307 ]. The leaves are used to treat rheumatism[ 307 ]. The seed is emmenagogue, galactagogue and abortifacient[ 272 ]. The powdered seed is a good anodyne for treating asthma, colic and jaundice[ 272 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Dye  Fuel  Mordant  Rust  Wood

Other uses rating: Low (2/5). Backyard tree, Small flowering tree, large container tree, Courtyard, Large conservatory. Other Uses In some countries, the fruit juice is used to remove stains, for example iron rust from linen cloth[ 303 ]. It can also be used for polishing brass. The fresh juice is an effective stain remover[ 307 , 418 ]. Unripe fruits contain potassium oxalate, which is used in dyeing[ 303 ]. The whitish wood is soft. Generally only available in small dimensions, it is sometimes used for timber in construction and for making small implements, furniture etc[ 272 , 303 , 404 ]. The wood is a suitable candidate for firewood[ 303 ].

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Plants grow best in the hot humid tropics up to an elevation of around 1,200 metres, though they will tolerate some cool weather and can be grown in subtropical areas[ 200 , 303 , 418 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 24 - 30°c, but can tolerate 5 - 39°c[ 418 ]. Mature plants can be killed by temperatures of -2°c or lower, although young growth is badly damaged at -1°c[ 418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,200 - 2,000mm, but tolerates 600 - 3,000mm[ 418 ]. Prefers a position with some shade[ 418 ]. Prefers a well-drained soil, plants are intolerant of water-logging[ 296 ]. Plants are tolerant of a wide range of soils so long as they are slightly acid[ 335 ]. This somewhat contradicts the reports that the plant prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 6.5, tolerating 5 - 8.5[ 418 ]. Requires a position sheltered from strong winds[ 418 ]. Plants can tolerate dry periods and some wind if it is not too cold[ 303 ]. When young, the carambola is delicate and requires careful attention[ 303 ]. Because it is a fast-growing tree, it requires pruning and thinning of excess fruit at an early stage[ 303 ]. Flowering continues throughout the year and fruit is available most of the year[ 303 ]. The fruit can be very variable when plants are grown from seed, with the best forms being large and sweet and others being small and tart[ 296 ]. Three crops per year can be obtained[ 200 ]. Seedling varieties should start to crop in 3 - 8 years, whilst selected grafted varieties can start in only 1-2 years[ 303 ]. Plants can crop prodigiously[ 307 ], and yields of up to 900 kg/year are common for 10-year-old trees[ 303 ]. There are many named varieties[ 301 ]. Some Brazilian cultivars have a very high content of vitamin C as well as an applicable amount of provitamin A[ 303 ]. Production: Seedling trees fruit after 4-5 years. They can produce 400 fruit per tree. Flowers open after 14-21 days and fruit mature after 14-15 weeks. Trees live for a long time and some fruit is produced at most times of the year. Flowers and fruit can be found on the tree at most times, although there is often 2 or 3 main flushes of flowering and fruiting. Fruiting tends to be seasonal about March to May in the southern hemisphere. The tree does not require pruning or any special care once established. Flowers are cross pollinated by bees, flies and other insects. Hand pollination does not help fruit set much. Fruit once ripe will keep for 7-20 days but can be stored longer at 12°C.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow in a nursery seedbed and transplant into individual containers when large enough to handle. Seeds are planted in a seed bed and planted out when 15-20 cm high. They should be ready to plant out when around 6 - 12 months old[ 404 ]. The seed has limited viability. Cool temperatures damage the seeds. Viability can be maintained for 6 months with partially dried seeds at 5°c[ 404 ]. Because seeds are produced by cross pollination, variation is common. It is therefore better to use budding or grafting. Taking buds off good trees, or grafting twigs from them, onto 1 year old seedling roots, is the commonest method. Greenwood cuttings Budding on to 12 month old seedlings[ 404 ] Grafting Layering. This method can produce fruiting plants within 10 months[ 200 ]. Marcottage or air layering can also be used, although it is difficult. A spacing of 6 m x 6 m is suitable. Trees need to be grafted if sweeter kinds of fruit are to be selected.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

"Carambola, Averrhoa carambola. Other Names: Balimbieng manih, Balimbing, Balingbing, Belimbing manis, Belimbing sagi, Blimbing alas, Coromandel, Five-cornered fruit, Fivesider, Fuang, Kamarakh, Kamaranga, Kamrakh, Kamranga, Kam rangthai, Karambola, Kardoi, Khe, Kordoi, Ma fueang, Ma-fueng, Mafen, Mafuang, Moyabo, Sonosambal, Spo, Spu, Star Fruit, Wi ni Idia."

Native Range

SOUTHERN AMERICA: Jawa, Maluku, Sulawesi,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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