Leaf of the Day: Chris’ Carambola

It is still raining.. raining, raining, raining.. if there is just one tiny gap in the clouds I will be out for some air but the sky is grey and the forecast gloomy.
However all this rain has meant I don’t have to water the few plants on our tiny balcony but throughout the stormy weather Chris has been worrying about his tree.
Chris does not really have green fingers nor does he share my passion for plants but, inexplicably, came back one day with a tree in a pot. Possibly he is working on the “if you can’t beat them join them” theory.
“Ay caramba.. another plant to look after!” I exclaimed.
I was nearly right as it is the delightful Carambola, the star fruit, Averrhoa carambola. Chris need not have worried too much about his tree, as it is sheltered in its VIP position on the top step crowding out all other possible life forms and edging towards the front door.
Currently it is still upright and has had a good watering. It is already 4ft high and well on its way to attaining the 20ft to 30ft of its adult stature.

There is a Carambola at Leu, but it is slightly obscured by a pedestal adorned with pots. I have glanced at it in passing and vaguely wondered when it was going to produce anything, only to find, when I went to look properly last week, that it is absolutely laden with these pretty waxy fruits. They are difficult to see as they are very well camouflaged, being an unripe green and hidden amongst the fluttering leaves. It really is a nice tree and at the moment it has tiny pretty pink flowers too.

As a fruit it is quite nice and refreshing and is, without a doubt, very attractive. When I first started this blog I used to get quite excited about the” medicinal uses” sections in plant descriptions. But the more you read, the more you realise that, unless they are horribly poisonous, most plants seem to have been used by some culture somewhere in the world to alleviate most aliments. Sometimes there are very conflicting claims and many have irresponsible claims to “cure ” diseases . So now I read with interest but don’t generally comment unless there is some historic importance or a curious fact.
The claims for the carambola are typically legion, but I was interested to learn that the more acidic varieties can be used for cleaning brass due to the oxalic acid in the juice. An acid by the way, that also contra indicates with heart medicine. (Which means that Chris’ plant could kill him, what gratitude?)

Our pretty and delicate carambola has neither flowers nor fruit, but after a slightly rocky start is looking cheerful. It has an endearing habit of folding its leaves at night, at first a cause of concern to its fond owner, but after anxious research was discovered to be a perfectly natural reaction to a lack of light. The drawing below is a fruit from Leu, with a leaf from Chris’ plant. He ‘ll never know…Ay Carambola!


Star Fruit.