Bilimbi (Averrhoa bilimbi)

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One exotic plant that will pique the interest of any life long food forester or curious chef is Bilimbi (Averrhoa bilimbi, Cucumber Tree Fruit, Tree Sorrel, Kamias, Mimbro). Bilimbi grows wild and in cultivation in the warmest parts of Southeast Asia, throughout Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, India, and Sri Lanka. 

Bilimbi grows shrublike, from a short trunk that expands with upright branches. As a member of the Averrhoa genus, it is similar in growing nature and closely related to starfruit trees, but is different in looks, fruit, flavor, and use. This tropical tree species is very cold sensitive, and needs close oversight in its early growing stages.  

Bilimbi trees will flower directly from the trunk in the late winter and early spring. The cylindrical fruits will follow shortly after, changing color from bright green to yellow-ivory over time. Fruits may fall to the ground when ripe, and will bruise easily because of thin skin. Looking out for a change in color is a good way to gauge fruit readiness. Bilimbi bears sour and acidic fruit that makes it a staple in any plate that needs an acidic balance. The fruit is rarely eaten raw, but the juice can be used in place of vinegar to add a bitter element to salads, soups, curries, and more. The oxalic acid content of bilimbi fruit is what contributes to its trademark taste and place on plates around the world.

Fun Fact: Bilimbi is related to Star Fruit!

Plant Type:
Tropical / Subtropical Evergreen Fruit Tree

Harvest Season:
Winter, Spring, Year-round
Star fruit and Bilimbi will bloom and fruit throughout most of the year, but will prominently flower from late Spring to Fall and fruit Winter through Spring.

Mature Size:
7-30 ft

Soil & Moisture:
Well-drained, high fertility and good moisture-holding capacity; High nitrogen demands. Regular watering throughout the first year and throughout flowering and fruiting season.

Light Requirements:
Full Sun, Part Shade, Shade
Prefers part shade or filtered light but will thrive in a variety of light conditions from full sun to shade.

Self-Fertile:
Yes

Growth Rate:
Medium 

Zone Hardiness:
Outdoors 9-11; Patio/Greenhouse 4+
Star Fruit and Bilimbi are both easy to grow in a container and can thrive in a large pot. In the colder months, until well-established, Star Fruit and Bilimbi trees may lose their leaves, so they could be overwintered indoors if temperatures reach below freezing.  Prune trees in late winter.

Propagation:
Large Pot Size: Grafted and capable of harvest within 1-2 years.
X-Large Pot Size: Grafted and capable of harvest within 1 year.


See More:
Sow Exotic offers many different unique varieties of Star Fruit! 
Shop all of our Star Fruit varieties! 
Shop Bilimbi!

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