Carambola

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Carambola

Carambola (kamraba) a smooth-skinned, star-shaped, edible tropical fruit, Averrhoa carambola (family Averrhoaceae). Carambola or starfruit and closely related bilimbi (A. bilimbi) are believed to have originated in Southeast Asia (Malay Peninsula to Indonesia). It is one of the important and popular fruits of Southeast Asian countries including China, Malaysia, Thailand, Pakistan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India. In Bangladesh, it is mainly grown in Barisal Division and getting popularity in other parts of the country.

The carambola tree is medium sized, attractive and evergreen, growing to about 12 m, which form a bushy canopy by slender, dropping branches bearing pinnately compound leaves. Seedling tree begins to flower after 3-5 years of planting. The flowers are pink to lavender and are born on young or old branches as short panicles generally from the leaf axils or scars.

The flowers are heterostylous, and the trees are partially self-incompatible. Carambola plantation is mostly homestead. Carambola fruit is ovoid to ellipsoid (6-13 cm) with five prominent longitudinal ribs, which looks star-shaped in cross section and hence it is called starfruit. The fruit is light-green to golden (on ripening) and has a waxy surface.  

The yield per plant ranges 80-120 kg. It is rich in reducing sugars, minerals, and vitamins A, B and C. Different cultivars of carambola (eg Golden Star, Arkin, B1-10, Fwung Tung, etc) are grown in Malaysia, Singapore, Hawaii, Florida, Japan, and Australia. In Bangladesh there is no well-known cultivar, except two types: the sour-type are acidic due to the presence of oxalic acid and are unsuitable for fresh consumption but can be used for making preserves and beverages, pickles, jam etc, while those of sweet or sub-acid-type are consumed as fresh fruits. The star sections of the fruit are used in fruit salads and on cakes because of their decorative qualities. [M Nurul Amin]

See also fruit.