The fruit is crisp when unripe, turns from bright green to yellow-green, ivory or nearly white when ripe and falls to the ground. The skin is glossy, thin, soft and tender, and the green flesh is jelly-like, juicy and extremely acid. They are sometimes faintly five-angled with an acid pulp. The bilimbi is a close relative to the carambola however it is quite different in its appearance, manner of fruiting and uses. Originating and grown extensively in Indonesia it is also cultivated and semi-wild everywhere in the Philippines and is very common in , Ceylon, Burma, Thailand, Malaya and Singapore. The mature fruits have a crunchy watery flesh and resemble small cucumbers. They usually range from 5 to 8cm in length. The fruits are picked by hand, singly or in clusters. They need gentle handling because of the thin skin and cannot be kept for more than 4 to 5 days. The fruit is generally regarded as too acid for eating raw, but in Costa Rica, the green, uncooked fruits are prepared as a relish that is served with rice and beans. Sometimes it is an accompaniment for fish and meat. Ripe fruits are frequently added to curries in the Far East. Bilimbi is often used in place of mango to make chutney. To reduce acidity, it may be first pricked and soaked in water overnight, or soaked in salted water for a shorter time; then boiled with sugar to make a delicious jam. Half-ripe fruits are salted, set out in the sun, and pickled in brine. An attractive and medium sized tree the bilimbi displays attractive dark-red flowers that are produced in panicles from the trunk and older branches. The leaves are used medicinally as a tonic throughout many countries. A tropical species the bilimbi is more cold sensitive than the carambola especially when very young. It will be a challenge trying to grow outside the Tropics. It does best in rich, moist, but well-drained soil, it grows and fruits quite well on sand or limestone. No pests or diseases have been reported specifically for the bilimbi Medicinally the leaves are applied as a paste or poulticed on itches, swellings of mumps and rheumatism, and on skin eruptions.
Plant Information or Specifications
Sub Categories (HashTags)
Rare And Unusual (#RareAndUnusual)
Learn About Climate Zones
Max Height (when in the ground with good conditions)
Plants required to Pollinate
1 (Self Pollinating)
Learn about Pollination
Can it Handle Frosts?
Likes Temps above 5deg
Amount of leaves in Winter?
All Leaves (Evergreen)
Quarantine Restrictions to these Areas
Time to Fruit/Flower/Harvest
Sun or Shade
Preferred Soil Type
February, March, April, May, June, November, December
Customer Comments on Bilimbi
You may add picture & also add medicinal uses in a detail.Thanks because it gives me some information that I have need. | Sabiha Chowdhury - South-asia, DHAKA 02-Oct-2009
Bilimbis can be dried and kept for months in tightly lid containers. Cut fruits in half and place them under the sun for a few days on a cloth. They will shrink and turn blakish when dried. They can then be used as part of your normal dish | Felix Orcullo - Wahroonga , NSW 08-Jan-2010
Bilimbi best for cooking fish,slise fruit thin,chops garlick,onion,lemongras thenwraped infoil,then grill. | Roby Haryanto - Constitution Hill, NSW 06-Apr-2010
Dry in the sun, with salt on it then make an achard by frying garlic ginger and chilies Oil is added Very nice condiment keep for months | Peter Carver - Nsw Sydney, NSW 09-Mar-2011
The fruit are used in sweet and sour dishes and raw they look like pickles and taste like very green carambolas.Trees are tougher than carambolas. | Mike Trenerry - Cairns, QLD 04-Jun-2011
In my place in India (Kerala), it is grown abundantly and a popular household medicine for controlling blood pressure. | Mary Shefi Dsilva - Noble Park, VIC 27-Apr-2016
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