Thursday, February 12, 2015

Starfruit: An easy-to-grow fruit tree for South Florida

Starfruit, also known as carambola, is one of my favorite fruits.

This last week my mom sent up a box of them from The Great South Florida Food Forest Project.


Starfruit will usually bear two crops a year in non-freezing climates. They can't handle the cold well at all, meaning it's almost impossible for me to grow them here in North Florida. I have a tree in my greenhouse but the fruit is only so-so. They're just better when planted in the ground.

The one from which the beautiful fruit above were harvested was planted 3 or 4 years ago. It's now consistently loaded with fruit.

If you've only had starfruit from the grocery store, you haven't tasted starfruit. Those bland and watery things are terrible. Fresh starfruit is exploding with juice and has a sweet-tart tropical goodness that's very refreshing. I really enjoy them with breakfast.

Carambola trees aren't usually all that large. They spread sideways and have attractive bark and feathery leaves. Some years ago I stood transfixed beneath a 15' tree in a friend's yard, looking up towards the sky. The sight of the semi-translucent fruit hanging like Chinese lanterns in the tropical sun was transcendently beautiful. I could have just sat down and stayed there for hours, staring up through the branches... but my friends start to think I'm insane when I do things like that, so I didn't.

If you live inside the zone where starfruit can be grown, grow one. They're productive, beautiful and delicious and require very little care.

And the fruit looks like this:


Magical.

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