Scientific identify: Averrhoa bilimbi
Frequent names: Bilimbi, Cucumber tree, Tree Sorrel
Ethnic names: Kamias, Belimbing Asam, Belimbing Buloh, Bimbiri
Origin: Moluccas, Indonesia
This uncommon unique fruit may be very well-liked in Thailand, Malaya and Singapore. In India, the place it’s often present in gardens, the bilimbi has gone wild within the warmest areas of the nation. Exterior native habitat, Bilimbi is tough to seek out plant, only a few growers produce them, though it isn’t so exhausting in cultivation.
The bilimbi is carefully allied to the carambola however fairly completely different in look, method of fruiting, taste and makes use of. The one strictly English names are “cucumber tree” and “tree sorrel”. “Bilimbi” is the frequent identify in India and has change into extensively used. Many individuals are extra conversant in the shut ralative – Averrhoa carambola (Star Fruit), which foliage seems to be similar to bilimbi. The bilimbi leaves and style of fruit are fairly much like these of the Phyllanthus acidus (Otaheite gooseberry), though these vegetation usually are not associated.
The tree may be very enticing, reaches 35 ft in in tropical areas, however in subtropical areas often would not develop taller than 15-20 ft, with a brief trunk dividing into upright branches. Small, aromatic, yellowish-green or purplish flowers marked with dark-purple, are borne in small, bushy panicles rising straight from the trunk and oldest, thickest branches and a few twigs, as do the clusters of curious fruits resembling small cucumbers that develop on strunk and stems. They common two to 3 inches in size and the acid pulp is imbedded with small seeds. The fruit’s pores and skin is shiny and really skinny. If unripe, the fruit is shiny inexperienced and crispy. It turns yellowish because it ripens. The flesh is inexperienced, jelly-like, juicy and very acidic. In India as in Florida, the tree begins to flower about February and then blooms and fruits roughly repeatedly till December. Bushes typically produce heavy crops of fruit over a protracted season as soon as they mature. A single tree usually produces tons of of fruits.
Bilimbi doesn’t appear to have varieties. Nevertheless it has been reported to have a candy selection within the Philippines.
The bilimbi is mostly considered too acid for consuming uncooked, though in Costa Rica, the inexperienced, raw fruits are ready as a relish which is served with rice and beans. Generally it’s an accompaniment for fish and meat. Ripe fruits are ceaselessly added to curries within the Far East or used instead of mango to make chutney. In cooking, fruit usually utilized in combos with Tamarind (will be additionally used with Candy Tamarind to neutralize the acidity). The fruit is wealthy in vitamin C. The fruit juice is well-liked for making cooling drinks on the order of lemonade. To scale back acidity, it might be first pricked and soaked in water in a single day and boiled with sugar to make a jam or an acid jelly. Half-ripe fruits are salted, set out within the solar, and pickled in brine and will be thus saved for three months. A faster pickle is made by placing the fruits and salt into boiling water. This product will be saved solely four to five days. The flowers are typically preserved with sugar.
Within the Philippines, the leaves function a paste on itches, swelling, rheumatism, mumps or pores and skin eruptions. Elsewhere, they’re used for bites of toxic creatures. A leaf infusion is environment friendly in opposition to or as an after-birth tonic, whereas the flower infusion is used for thrush, chilly, and cough. Malays use the juice as eye drops and regard it as a magic healing.
Bilimbi bushes are vigorous and want no particular horticultural consideration. They reply properly to no matter cultural therapy provides good outcomes with the carambola. It appears to be almost pest-free plant. Bilimbi grows greatest in wealthy and well-drained soil (but additionally grows and fruits fairly properly on sand or limestone) and doesn’t tolerate salt spray. It may be grown in a pot and pruned to desired dimension, and in addition makes an uncommon bonsai.
It’s a chilly delicate plant, particularly when very younger, and requres safety under 30 to 40F relying on publicity and placement. Because the tree matures it will get considerably hardier. If rising within the floor, be certain that to plant Bilimbi in in a wind-protected space (below greater tree cover, by home wall or fence) and canopy with a blanket if there’s a threat of chilly evening. Your efforts will probably be rewarded with an unique look and engaging refreshing drink!