Botanical Name: Averrhoa bilimbi
Species: A. bilimbi
*Averrhoa abtusangulata Stokes
*Averrhoa obtusangula Stokes
Common Names: Bilimbi, Cucumber tree, Tree sorrel,Bilincha,Blimbin, Mimbro,Kaling Pring
Possibly originated in Moluccas, Indonesia, the species is now cultivated and found throughout Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar (Burma) and Malaysia. It is also common in other Southeast Asian countries. In India, where it is usually found in gardens, the bilimbi has gone wild in the warmest regions of the country. It is also seen in coastal regions of South India.
Outside of Asia, the tree is cultivated in Zanzibar. In 1793, the bilimbi was introduced to Jamaica from Timor and after several years, was cultivated throughout Central and South America where it is known as mimbro. In Suriname this fruit is known as lange birambi. Introduced to Queensland at the end of the 19th century, it has been grown commercially in the region since that time. In Guyana, it is called Sourie, One finger, Bilimbi and Kamranga.
This is essentially a tropical tree, less resistant to cold than the carambola, growing best in rich and well-drained soil (but also stands limestone and sand). It prefers evenly distributed rainfall throughout the year, but with a 2- to 3-month dry season. Therefore, the species is not found, for example, in the wettest part of Malaysia. In Florida, where it is an occasional curiosity, the tree needs protection from wind and cold.
Averrhoa bilimbi is a small tropical tree native to Malaysia and Indonesia, reaching up to 15m in height. It is often multitrunked, quickly dividing into ramifications. Bilimbi leaves are alternate, pinnate, measuring approximately 30–60 cm in length. Each leaf contains 11-37 leaflets; ovate to oblong, 2–10 cm long and 1–2 cm wide and cluster at branch extremities. The leaves are quite similar to those of the Otaheite gooseberry. The tree is cauliflorous with 18–68 flowers in panicles that form on the trunk and other branches. The flowers are heterotristylous, borne in a pendulous panicle inflorescence. There flower is fragrant, corolla of 5 petals 10–30 mm long, yellowish green to reddish purple. The fruit is ellipsoidal, elongated, measuring about 4 – 10 cm and sometimes faintly 5-angled. The skin, smooth to slightly bumpy, thin and waxy turning from light green to yellowish-green when ripe. The flesh is crisp and the juice is sour and extremely acidic and therefore not typically consumed as fresh fruit by itself. Fruit is often preserved and used as a popular flavouring/seasoning and is a key ingredient in many Indonesian dishes such as sambal belimbing wuluh and asam sunti (see Culinary interest). A. bilimbi holds great value in complementary medicine (see Medical interest) as evidenced by the substantial amount of research on it. According to traditional Indonesian/Malaysian knowledge, the trunk and branches of tree require exposure to sunlight to initiate flowering/fruiting, which can be assisted by removing leaves from the inner canopy.
This nutritional value is obtained from every 100 g of the fruit
Calcium – 3.4mg
Phosphorous – 11.1 mg
Riboflavin – 0.026mg
Carotene – 0.035mg
Niacin – 0.302mg
Moisture – 95mg
Iron – 1.01mg
Calcium – 3.5mg
Thiamine – 0.010mg
Ash – 0.30-0.40mg
Fiber – 0.6mg
In Indonesia, A. bilimbi, locally known as belimbing wuluh, is often used to give sour or an acidic flavor to food, substituting tamarind or tomato. In the north western province of Aceh, it is preserved by salting and sun-drying to make asam sunti, a kitchen seasoning to make a variety of Achenese dishes.
In the Philippines, where it is commonly found in backyards, the fruits are eaten either raw or dipped in rock salt. It can be either curried or added as a souring agent for common Filipino dishes such as sinigang, pinangat and paksiw. It is being sun-dried for preservation. It is also used to make salad mixed with tomatoes, chopped onions with soy sauce as dressing.
The uncooked bilimbi is prepared as relish and served with rice and beans in Costa Rica.
In the Far East, where the tree originated, it is sometimes added to curry.
In Malaysia, it also is made into a rather sweet jam.
In Kerala and Bhatkal, India, it is used for making pickles and to make fish curry, especially with Sardines, while around Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa the fruit is commonly eaten raw with salt and spice. In Guyana and Mauritius, it is made into achars/pickles too.
In Seychelles, it is often used as an ingredient to give a tangy flavor to many Seychellois creole dishes, especially fish dishes. It is often used in grilled fish and also (almost always) in a shark meat dish, called satini reken. It is also cooked down with onion, tomato, and chili peppers to make a sauce. Sometimes they are cured with salt to be used when they are out of season.
Bilimbi juice (with a pH of about 4.47) is made into a cooling beverage. It can replace mango in making chutney. Additionally, the fruit can be preserved by pickling, which reduces its acidity.
*The leaves of bilimbi are used as a treatment for venereal disease.
*The leaf decoction is taken as a medicine to relieve from rectal inflammation.
*The fruit seems to be effective against coughs and thrush.
*It fights against cholestrol and is used as a tonic and laxative.
*The fruit is also known to control internal bleeding in the stomach.
*The leaves serve as a paste on itches, swelling, mumps or skin eruptions.
*Syrup made from Bilimbi is a cure for fever and inflammation.
*It is also used to stop rectal bleeding and alleviate internal hemorrhoids.
In the Philippines, the leaves serve as a paste on itches, swelling, rheumatism, mumps or skin eruptions. Elsewhere, they are used for bites of venomous creatures. A leaf infusion is used as an after-birth tonic, while the flower infusion is used for thrush, cold, and cough. Malaysians use fermented or fresh bilimbi leaves to treat venereal diseases. In French Guiana, syrup made from the fruit is used to treat inflammatory conditions. To date there is no scientific evidence to confirm effectiveness for such uses.
In some villages in the Thiruvananthapuram district of India, the fruit of the bilimbi was used in folk medicine to control obesity. This led to further studies on its antihyperlipidemic properties.
The fruit contains high levels of oxalate. Acute kidney failure due to tubular necrosis caused by oxalate has been recorded in several people who drank the concentrated juice on continuous days as treatment for high cholesterol.
In Malaysia, very acidic bilimbis are used to clean kris blades. In the Philippines, it is often used in rural places as an alternative stain remover.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.