name = "Averrhoa bilimbi"

image_width = 240px
regnum = Plantae
divisio = Magnoliophyta
classis = Magnoliopsida
ordo = Oxalidales
familia = Oxalidaceae
genus = "Averrhoa"
species = "A. bilimbi"
binomial = "Averrhoa bilimbi"
binomial_authority = L.

"Averrhoa bilimbi", commonly known as bilimbi, bimbli, belimbing, blimbling, biling (and also bimbiri in Sinhala ), cucumber tree, tree sorrel, or "khế tàu" is a close relative of the carambola, of genus Averrhoa, family Oxalidaceae.

Distribution and habitat

Possibly originating on the Moluccas, Indonesia, the species is cultivated or found semi-wild throughout Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar (Burma). It is common in other Southeast Asian countries. In India, where it is usually found in gardens, the bilimbi has gone wild in the warmest regions of the country.

Outside of Asia, the tree is cultivated in Zanzibar. In 1793, the bilimbi was introduced to Jamaica from Timor and after several years, was cultivated throughout Central and South America. Introduced to Queensland at the end of the 19th century, it has been grown commercially in the region since that time.

This is essentially a tropical tree, less resistant to cold than the carambola, growing best in rich and well-drained soil (but also stands limestone and sand). It prefers evenly distributed rainfall throughout the year, but with a 2- to 3-month dry season. Therefore the species is not found, for example, in the wettest part of Malaysia. In Florida, where it is an occasional curiosity, the tree needs protection from wind and cold.

Tree description

The bilimbi tree is long-lived and reaches 5-10 m in height. Its trunk is short and quickly divides up into ramifications. Bilimbi leaves, 30-60 cm long, are alternate, imparipinnate and cluster at branch extremities. There are around 11 to 37 alternate or subopposite oblong leaflets. The leaves are quite similar to those of the Otaheite gooseberry.

Flower and fruit description

Its flowers, like its fruits, are found in hairy panicles that directly emerge from the trunk as well as from the oldest, most solid branches. The yellowish or purplish flowers are tiny, fragrant and have 5 petals.

The bilimbi fruit's form ranges from ellipsoid to almost cylindrical. Its length is 4-10 cm. The bilimbi is 5-sided, but in a less marked way than the carambola. At the stem's end, the fruit is capped with a star-shape calyx. If unripe, it is bright green and crispy. It turns yellowish as it ripens. The flesh is juicy, green and extremely acidic. The fruit's skin is glossy and very thin.

Bilimbi seeds are small (6 mm) and brown. Their form is disc-like and flattened.


There are few cultivated varieties of bilimbi. However, it has been reported to have a sweet variety in the Philippines.

Nutritional value for 100 g of edible portion

*Moisture 94.2-94.7 g
*Protein 0.61 g
*Ash 0.31-0.40 g
*Fiber 0.6g
*Phosphorus 11.1 mg
*Calcium 3.4 mg
*Iron 1.01 mg
*Thiamine 0.010 mg
*Riboflavin 0.026 mg
*Carotene 0.035 mg
*Ascorbic Acid 15.5 mg
*Niacin 0.302 mg

Culinary interest

In the rural parts of the Philippines, where it is commonly found as a backyard plant, it is eaten raw, dipped in rock salt, as a snack. It could either be curred or added as flavoring for the common Filipino dish "sinigang". The uncooked bilimbi is prepared as relish and served with rice and bean in Costa Rica. In the Far East, where the tree originates, it is sometimes added to curry. Bilimbi juice (with a pH of about 4.47) is made a cooling beverage. In Indonesia, it is added in some dishes, for substituting tamarind or tomato.

Besides, the fruit can be preserved, which reduces its acidity. The flowers are also sometimes preserved in sugar.

In another part of Indonesia, Aceh, it is preserved by sun-drying, the sun-dried bilimbi is called asam sunti. Bilimbi and asam sunti are popular in Acehnese culinary. It can replace mango in making chutney. In Malaysia, it also is made into a jam, which is rather sweet. [ [ Bilimbi ] ]

In Kerala India it is used for making pickles.

Medical interest

In the Philippines, the leaves serve as a paste on itches, swelling, rheumatism, mumps or skin eruptions. Elsewhere, they are used for bites of poisonous creatures. A leaf infusion is efficient against or as an after-birth tonic, while the flower infusion is used for thrush, cold, and cough. Malaysians use fermented or fresh bilimbi leaves to cure venereal diseases.

Other uses

In Malaysia, very acidic bilimbis is used to clean the "kris" blade.


External links

* [ Pictures of "Averrhoa bilimbi"]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • bilimbi — ⇒BILIMBI, BILIMBING, subst. masc. BOT., fam. Corambolier de Madagascar, famille des oxalidacées. Bilimbings couverts de jolies fleurs bleues et de fruits (DUMONT D URVILLE, Voyage au Pôle Sud, t. 5, 1843, p. 276). Rem. 1. Attesté dans Ac. Compl.… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • bilimbí — o bilimbín (Averrhoa bilimbi) m. Árbol oxalidáceo tropical, ornamental y de fruto comestible …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Bilimbi — Bi*lim bi, ||Bilimbing Bi*lim bing, n. [Malay.] The berries of two East Indian species of {Averrhoa}, of the {Oxalide[ae]} or Sorrel family. They are very acid, and highly esteemed when preserved or pickled. The juice is used as a remedy for skin …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Bilimbi — Gurkenbaum Gurkenbaum (Averrhoa bilimbi) Systematik Klasse: Dreifurchenpollen Zweikeimblättrige (Rosopsida) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Bilimbi — Bilimbi …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Bilimbi — agurkinė averoja statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Kiškiakopūstinių šeimos vaisinis kultūrinis augalas (Averrhoa bilimbi). atitikmenys: lot. Averrhoa bilimbi angl. bilimbi; cucumber tree vok. Bilimbi; Bilimbibaum; Gurkenbaum rus. аверройя… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • bilimbi — agurkinė averoja statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Kiškiakopūstinių šeimos vaisinis kultūrinis augalas (Averrhoa bilimbi). atitikmenys: lot. Averrhoa bilimbi angl. bilimbi; cucumber tree vok. Bilimbi; Bilimbibaum; Gurkenbaum rus. аверройя… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • bilimbi — bi·lim·bi (bə lĭmʹbē) n. pl. bi·lim·bis 1. An evergreen tree (Averrhoa bilimbi) native to tropical Asia and grown for its edible fruits. 2. The small, sour, greenish or yellowish cucumber shaped fruit of this tree, eaten as a pickle or used in… …   Universalium

  • bilimbi — noun East Indian evergreen tree bearing very acid fruit • Syn: ↑Averrhoa bilimbi • Hypernyms: ↑fruit tree …   Useful english dictionary

  • Bilimbi — Bilịmbi,   Frucht des Gurkenbaums …   Universal-Lexikon

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