Star Fruit (Kamranga in Bengali)

Belimbing alias StarfruitImage via Wikipedia

Botanical Name: Averrhoa carambola
Family: Oxalidaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Oxalidales
Genus: Averrhoa
Species: A. carambola
Common Names:carambola,star ftuit,kamranga,Soh Pyrshong, Karambal, Karambola,  Kamarak, Carambola tree, Star fruit, Chinese gooseberry, Karamakha, Tamarak, Karmal, Karamakshi, Chaturpuli, Pulicchi, Kamare, Tamarattai, Karomonga.
Parts used: Leaves, flowers, seeds, fruit.
Habitat: The carambola is a species of tree native to Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka and is popular throughout Southeast Asia, Trinidad, Malaysia and parts of East Asia. It is also grown throughout the tropics. Carambola is commercially grown in the United States in south Florida and Hawaii, for its fruit, known as the starfruit. It is closely related to the bilimbi.

History: The star fruit originally came from Sri Lanka and the Moluccas. For the past several hundred years, it has been cultivated in Malaysia.

Description:The carambola is a slow-growing, short-trunked evergreen tree with a much-branched, bushy canopy that is broad and rounded. Mature trees seldom exceed 25-30 feet in height and 20-25 feet in spread. Trees are very unlikely to reach this size in California. In a spot to its liking carambolas make handsome ornamentals. Container grown plants are equally attractive and have the additional advantage of being movable.

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Fruits are ovate to ellipsoid, 6 to 13 cm in length, with 5 (rarely 4 or 6) prominent longitudinal ribs. Slices cut in cross-section are star shaped. The skin is thin, light to dark yellow and smooth with a waxy cuticle. The flesh is light yellow-to-yellow, translucent, crisp and very juicy without fiber. The fruit has a more or less oxalic acid odour and the flavour ranges from very sour to mildly sweet. Some times fruits contained more than 4% sugar.

Foliage:
The spirally arranged, alternate leaves are 6 – 10 inches long, with 5 – 11 nearly opposite, ovate-oblong leaflets that are 1-1/2 to 3-1/2 inches in length. They are soft, medium-green, and smooth on the upper surface, faintly hairy and whitish on the underside. The leaflets are sensitive to light and more or less inclined to to fold together at night or when the tree is shaken or abruptly shocked.

Flowers: The fragrant, pink to lavender flowers are 3/8 inch in diameter, perfect, and borne in clusters in axils of leaves on young branches, or on older branches without leaves. There are several flushes of bloom throughout the year.

Fruit: Carambola fruits are ovate to ellipsoid, 2-1/2 to 5 inches (6 to 13 cm) in length, with 5 (rarely 4 or 6) prominent longitudinal ribs. Slices cut in cross-section are star shaped. The skin is thin, light to dark yellow and smooth with a waxy cuticle. The flesh is light yellow to yellow, translucent, crisp and very juicy, without fiber. The fruit has a more or less oxalic acid odor and the flavor ranges from very sour to mildly sweet. The so-called sweet types rarely have more than 4% sugar. There may be up to 12 flat, thin brown seeds 1/4 – 1/2 inch long or none at all. Seeds lose viability in a few days after removal from fruit.

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Nutritional Value: Edible fruit is a source of iron (low in calcium) and vitamins B and C, oxalate and potassium.

Medicinal Uses:Vermifuge, laxative, refrigerant, antiscorbutic, febrifuge, sialogogue, antiphlogistic, stimulant, emmenagogue, anodyne, emetic.
Like grapefruit, star fruit is considered to be a potent inhibitor of seven cytochrome P450 isoforms. These enzymes are significant in the first pass elimination of many medicines, and thus the consumption of star fruit or its juice in combination with certain medications can significantly increase their effective dosage within the body. Research into grapefruit juice has identified a number of common medications affected, including statins which are commonly used to treat cardiovascular illness, benzodiazepines (a tranquilizer family including diazepam) as well as other medicines.  These interactions can be fatal if an unfortunate confluence of genetic, pharmacological, and lifestyle factors results in, for instance, heart failure, as could occur from the co-ingestion of star fruit or star fruit juice with atorvastatin (Lipitor)

In India, the ripe fruit is administered to halt hemorrhages and to relieve bleeding hemorrhoids. The dried fruit or the juice may be taken to counteract fevers.
A conserve of the fruit is said to allay biliousness and diarrhea and to relieve a “hangover” from excessive indulgence in alcohol. A salve made of the fruit is employed to relieve eye afflictions.
In Brazil, the carambola is recommended as a diuretic in kidney and bladder complaints, and is believed to have a beneficial effect in the treatment of eczema.
In Chinese Materia Medica it is stated: “Its action is to quench thirst, to increase the salivary secretion, and hence to allay fever.”
A decoction of combined fruit and leaves is drunk to overcome vomiting. Leaves are bound on the temples to soothe headache. Crushed leaves and shoots are poulticed on the eruptions of chicken-pox, also on ringworm.
The flowers are given as a vermifuge. In southeast Asia, the flowers are rubbed on the dermatitis caused by lacquer derived from Rhus verniciflua Stokes.
Burkill says that a preparation of the inner bark, with sandalwood and Alyxia sp., is applied on prickly heat. The roots, with sugar, are considered an antidote for poison. Hydrocyanic acid has been detected in the leaves, stems and roots.
A decoction of the crushed seeds acts as a galactagogue and ernmenagogue and is mildly intoxicating. The powdered seeds serve as a sedative in cases of asthma and colic.
(Morton, J. 1987. Fruits of warm climates.)

Tea of boiled leaves used for aphthous stomatitis.
Crushed shoots or leaves used externally for headaches and ringworm.
Boiled flowers used to expel worms: 50 gms to a pint of boiling water; drunk in normal doses.
Fruit is laxative.
Decoction of fruit, 50 gms to a pint of boiling water, 4-5 glasses a day for bleeding piles.
Juice of fresh fruit for affections of the eyes.
Seed is used for asthma and colic: Powdered seeds, 10 gms to a cup of warm water, drunk 4 times daily.

You may click to see:-> Star Fruit and Gout

Precaution:Individuals with kidney trouble should avoid consuming the fruit, because of the presence of oxalic acid. Juice made from carambola can be even more dangerous owing to its concentration of the acid. It can cause hiccups, vomiting, nausea, and mental confusion. Fatal outcomes after ingestion of star fruits have been described in uraemic patients.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carambola
http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/carambola.html
http://www.stuartxchange.com/Balimbing.html
http://www.ntbg.org/plants/plant_details.php?plantid=1377

http://gbpihed.gov.in/envis/HTML/vol13_1/nrai.htm

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