Carambola 1 seedling (Punla)
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The carambola tree has a short trunk with many branches, reaching up to 30 feet (9.1 m) in height. Its deciduous leaves are 6–10 inches (15–25 cm) long, with 5 to 11 ovate leaflets medium-green in color.Flowers are lilac in color, with purple streaks, and are about 0.25 inches (6.4 mm) wide.
The showy fruits have a thin, waxy pericarp, orange-yellow skin, and crisp, yellow flesh with juice when ripe. The fruit is about 5 to 15 centimetres (2 to 6 inches) in length and is an oval shape. It usually has five or six prominent longitudinal ridges. In cross section, it resembles a star. The flesh is translucent and light yellow to yellow in color. Each fruit can have 10 to 12 flat light brown seeds about 6 to 13 mm (0.25 to 0.5 in) in width and enclosed in gelatinous aril. Once removed from the fruit, they lose viability within a few days.
Like the closely related bilimbi, there are two main types of carambola: the small sour (or tart) type and the larger sweet type. The sour varieties have a higher oxalic acid content than the sweet type. A number of cultivars have been developed in recent years. The most common cultivars grown commercially include the sweet types “Arkin” (Florida), “Yang Tao” (Taiwan), “Ma fueng” (Thailand), “Maha” (Malaysia), and “Demak” (Indonesia) and the sour types “Golden Star”, “Newcomb”, “Star King”, and “Thayer” (all from Florida). Some of the sour varieties like “Golden Star” can become sweet if allowed to ripen.
Carambola is known by many names across its regions of cultivation, including balimbing in the Philippines, ma fen in China, kamaranga in India, and carambolo or “carambola” in Spanish-speaking countries, as examples.
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