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Averrhoa bilimbi L.

Family Name: Oxalidaceae
Common Name: Bilimbi, Belimbing Buloh, Cucumber Tree, Belimbing, 木胡瓜

Averrhoa bilimbi, also known as Bilimbi, is a small tree, up to 10 m tall. The flowers are purplish red and occur on the trunk or branches in pendulous clusters. At maturity, the fruit is yellowish green and tastes very sour, hence it is usually eaten as a relish.

Full Sun: 6-8h Moderate Water Bird-Attracting Caterpillar Food Plant Fruit & Vegetable Herb & Spice Ornamental Flowers Tree


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Common Names
Species Summary

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Small (6m-15m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 10 m


Native Distribution Moluccas, Indonesia, Malaysia
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Exotic (Horticultural / Cultivated Only)

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Small tree, able to grow up to about 5 - 10 m tall.
Trunk Short trunk which branches out into a number of upright branches.
Foliage Green leaves, alternate arrangement and usually clustered at the branch tips, measuring about 30 - 60 cm long, each leaf has about 11 - 37 ovate to oblong leaflets measuring about 2 - 10 cm long and 1.2 cm wide.
Flowers Small purplish-red flowers borne in a pendulous panicle inflorescence, 5-petaled and fragrant, each inflorescence has about 60 flowers.
Fruits Fruit is ellipsoid to obovoid in shape, turns from light green to yellowish-green when ripen, measuring about 4 - 10 cm long. 
Others - Plant Morphology Averhhoa bilimbi is closely allied to the Averhhoa carambola (Starfruit), they share some of the same names despite being very different fruits.
Etymology Genus Averrhoa is named after Averrhoes (1126 - 1198), a well-known Arabian philosopher and physician and also a translator of Aristotle's work. Species bilimbi means cucumber tree.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Fruits)
Food (Herb and Spice;Fruit & Vegetable : The fruit is too acid for eating raw but the green uncooked fruits are prepared as relish in Suriname.)

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils
Landscape Uses General, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Caterpillar Food Plant, Bird Attracting
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.0 (Tree - Intermediate Canopy)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Red
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary, Cauliflorous
Inflorescence Type Panicle

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Green
Mature Seed Colour(s) Brown
Mature Seed Texture(s) Smooth
Seed Description Small and flattened

Image Repository



Master ID 1442
Species ID 2735
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 22 July 2021.

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