Plants

Star apple fruit tree

 

The Caimito is a tropical fruit belonging to the Sapotaceae family, it is also known by the name of star apple. It is commonly grown in South America and Asia, although it can be found in the United States, specifically Puerto Rico , Hawaii, and Florida.

The Caimito tree is quite beautiful, the leaves glow a deep green on top and have a beautiful golden hue underneath. Star apple trees are excellent ornamental plants and fruit producers.

This species is not grown commercially on a large scale, but is seen primarily as a fruit tree in many homes and along roadsides. The appearance of its fruit is similar to that of a plum , but when cut in half, an unusual star pattern is seen in the center of the fruit.

The fruit is generally consumed fresh, although it can be an ingredient in salads and sorbets. It is highly nutritious, containing moderate amounts of calcium, phosphorus, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and is a good source of antioxidants .

Caimito tree characteristics

Star apple trees are medium to large in size, 8 to 30 m tall with a round to oval canopy. The leaves are alternate, elliptic, 5 to 15 cm long, slightly leathery. There are two different types of colors; the fruits with yellow-purple skin and the greenish ones, both with an incredible flavor.

Caimito is best suited to hot tropical lowland climates. Trees exposed to air temperatures of about 4°C accompanied by strong winds can become defoliated. Young trees have limited cold tolerance and are damaged or killed at -0.6 to 0°C.

This plant grows quickly, either in the ground or in a large container. Healthy trees can produce edible fruit as early as their third year. Star apple is a tasty fruit that contains a milky juice, used in smoothies and other culinary activities. However, its outer skin is not edible .

How the Caimito is grown

Star apple can be propagated by seed, grafting, budding, and air layering. Seedling trees bear fruit in 5 to 10 years, while vegetatively propagated trees can begin fruiting in 1 to 2 years.

Some seedlings do not need cross-pollination to bear fruit. young trees should be fertilized every 1-2 months for the first year. From spring through summer, trees should receive 3 to 4 annual nutritional sprays of copper, zinc, manganese, and boron for the first 4 to 5 years.

This tree generally flowers from August to October, and the fruit is harvested between February and May. To obtain a better development, the plant must be sown in full sun in order to produce tasty and quality fruits.

The fruit does not fall when ripe and must therefore be picked by hand by cutting from the base to avoid damaging the skin and stem. The fruits are fully ripe when the color of the skin becomes dull and slightly soft. The unripe fruit is astringent and inedible due to the rubbery latex.

The best soil for planting is one that is sandy, fertile and well drained. Star apple should be planted at least 7.6 m from nearby trees and structures because mature trees that are not pruned regularly can become quite large.

In general, star apple trees have few insect pest problems. However, recently it has been observed that some type of lepidoptera larvae (moths) attack the flowers. Therefore, trees should be regularly inspected and treated for insect problems when they occur.

 

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Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

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