DESCRIPTION 

Carambola, also known as starfruit, is the fruit of Averrhoa carambola, a species of tree native to the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.The fruit is popular throughout Southeast Asia, the South Pacific and parts of East Asia. The tree is also cultivated throughout non-indigenous tropical areas, such as in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the southern United States.The fruit has distinctive ridges running down its sides (usually five but can sometimes vary); in cross-section, it resembles a star, hence its name. The entire fruit is edible and is usually eaten out of hand. They may also be used in cooking and can be made into relishes, preserves, and juice drinks.

 

HOW TO GROW 

 

  1. Start by buying a few ripe star fruits from the grocery store.
  2. Carefully cut the fruit, take care not to cut the seeds. Eat some of the fruit (the fun part) to see if it’s sweet and worth planting. You’ll want to plant seeds from the fruits that are the sweetest.
  3. Remove all of the seeds.
  4. Put some seed starter soil (peat moss mix) in cups and wet it with warm water (it’s important to wet the soil before you plant the seed to keep the water from pushing your seed to the bottom of the cup). You may also use Jiffy Pellets – prepare them by wetting them with warm water, also.
  5. Plant one seed per cup.
  6. Water thoroughly with more warm water and cover with plastic to keep the soil moist.
  7. Star fruit trees are tropical plants so this is a plant you’ll want to grow in a container if you don’t live in a tropical climate. Start with a small container and keep graduating the plant to a larger one as it grows. It will need to be transferred indoors or at least kept in the garage when the outside temperature falls below freezing or when there is a threat of frost.
  8. During the winter it may loose leaves due to lack of light and lower temps, but it should pull through if you remember to water it every now and then.
  9. Star Fruit plants have an upward growth habit. Generally trees planted in the ground are pruned hard every year or two to maintain a manageable fruiting height. For dwarf varieties grown in containers, you should prune back the out-reaching branches. Do your pruning in late winter before spring growth starts in earnest. As the flowers form on both the young and older wood this pruning doesn’t interrupt the fruiting cycle.
  10. Carambola fruit do not increase in sugar content after picking and so for optimum sweetness and flavor should be picked when fruit turn from green to a yellow color in the furrow between the ribs while the tips of the ribs (fins) remain green. Fruit may be stored in plastic bags for up to about 21 days in the refrigerator.

 

PLANT CARE 

 

Fertilize: 4 to 5 times a year with balanced liquid fertilizer or use a slow release granular fertilizer several times during the growing season.

Water: Star Fruit does well with regular watering. Additional watering is not needed during the rainy season.

Plant in full sun. Trees will do better in an area that is protected or sheltered from the wind.

Soil: Carambola are not too particular of soil of types, but grow faster and produce more fruit in a soil with more organic matter. Needs good drainage and does not like wet feet.

 

PESTS/DISEASES

 

Cercospora leaf spot

Tiny necrotic or chlorotic spots on leaflets; spots grow larger and developgray-white centers, reddish-brown margins and chlorotic halos; spots coalesce to form large lesions; leaves turn yellow and drop from palm

Management

Plant carambola varieties that are more tolerant of the disease in areas where disease is present; disease can be controlled with regular applications of appropriate foliar fungicides

Alternaria black spot (Brown spot)

Small, circular light brown or black spots on skin of fruits; lesions develop sunken centres and olive-brown spores

Management

Avoid wounding fruits during harvest

Anthracnose

Tiny, slightly depressed light to dark brown spots which expand and make fruit soft; spots coalesce to form large irregular lesions; oranges spore masses may develop; dark brown, oval shaped lesionunguss may develop on leaves

Management

Avoid wounding fruits during harvest

Flyspeck

Small black dots in roughly circular pattern on surface of fruit which can be rubbed off

Management

No specific treatments are currently recommended

Pythium root rot

Canopy has sparse appearance; wilting during periods of water stress; foliage may show symptoms of nutrient deficiencies

Management

Plant only disease-free nursery stock; plant in areas with no history of the disease; avoid planting trees in low lying areas

Algal disease

Orange, rusty pustules on leaves, stems, twigs and fruit; swelling tissue; leaves on infected twigs wilting and turning yellow; dieback of shoots

Management

Maintain proper irrigation, pruning and fertilization regimes in carambola plantations; appropriate copper based fungicides may be required to control the disease in severely infected plantations

 

HEALTH 

 

  • Greatest amount of nutrients in star fruit is derived from vitamin C, providing 76 percent of the daily recommended value in a single one-cup serving.
  • The C content in star fruit helps ward off colds, flu, and any other type of infection.
  • Smaller amounts of dietary fiber, copper, pantothenic acid, and potassium (which can prevent muscle cramps by increasing blood circulation) are important components of this fruit. B-complex vitamins like folates, riboflavin, and pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)  are also present and team up to perform various synthetic functions inside the body, such as forming metabolizing enzymes.
  • The average star fruit contains around 30 calories (fewer than any other tropical fruit per serving), so with its high fiber content, it’s a great choice for anyone wanting to lose weight, prevent constipation, and keep their system running smoothly. It also helps prevent the absorption of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol while protecting the colon from toxic substances, by binding to cancer-causing chemicals that happen to be passing through.
  • The antioxidants offer their own benefits, including the neutralization of harmful free radicals that can cause inflammation. Flavonoids such as quercetin, epicatechin, and gallic acid offer this benefit, as well.
  • The leaves and fruit have been used to stop vomiting; placed on the temples to ease headache; for poultices to relieve chickenpox and rid the body of parasitic infestation.