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Plant text by Naomi Lacey, feature photo Wikipedia

Common name: Carambola, Starfruit
Scientific name: Averrhoa carambola
Family, and related species: Caricaceae

Description including form (tree, climber etc), other similar species

A short, single trunked tree that grows to 8m with a bushy canopy. Alternate, compound leaves grow to 30cm with up to 12 leaflets on each leaf. The fruit is fluted with typically 5 corners and has a waxy yellow skin when ripe with a crisp texture. When cut crosswise the fruit has a star shape hence the other common name of starfruit. The tree fruits year round with heavier production during the dry season. Flowers are pink to lavender and are tiny with 5 petals and a beautiful 

Role/ characteristics/ use in permaculture

A beautiful tree with edible fruit that is perfect for any food forest in the tropics. 

An excellent canopy that provides great shade and protection for shade-loving understory plants.

Ecology and habitat requirements

Needs full sun and a well drained soil. Will not tolerate frost, salt or waterlogging. Grows best in warm to hot climates and needs shelter from strong winds. Keeping the tree well pruned will make it easier to access fruit. 

Likes heavy feeding. Organic fertilisers such as fish emulsion and compost teas applied regularly will ensure an excellent crop year-round.

Access to plants

Will grow from seed but is best when grafted or marcotted. 

Available in most Darwin nurseries or from Tropiculture.


Norrington, Leonie, 2001, Tropical Food Gardens: A guide to growing fruit, herbs and vegetables, Bloomings Books, Melbourne, Australia

Wikipedia, 2014, Carambola

University of Florida, 2013, Carambola Growing in the Florida Home Landscape

NT Government, 2006, Carambola

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