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Chrysophyllum cainito is a tropical tree of the family Sapotaceae, native to the lowlands of Central America and the West Indies. It grows rapidly and reaches 20 m in height.

It has numerous common names including cainito, caimito, star apple, golden leaf tree, abiaba, pomme du lait, estrella, milk fruit and aguay. It is also known by the synonym Achras cainito. In Vietnam, it is called vú sữa (literally: breast-milk).

The leaves are evergreen, alternate, simple oval, entire, 5–15 cm long; the underside shines with a golden color when seen from a distance. The tiny flowers are purplish white and have a sweet fragrant smell. The tree is also hermaphroditic (self-fertile).

It has round, purple-skinned fruit that is often green around the calyx, with a star pattern in the pulp. Sometimes there is a greenish-white or yellow variety of the fruit. The skin is rich in latex, and both it and the rind are not edible. The flattened seeds are light brown and hard. It bears fruit year around after it reaches about seven years of age.

The fruits are delicious as a fresh dessert fruit; it is sweet and best served chilled. Infusions of the leaves have been used against diabetes and articular rheumatism. The fruit has anti-oxidant properties.,[1][2] The bark is considered a tonic and stimulant, and a bark decoction is used as an antitussive. The fruit also exist in three colors, dark purple, greenish brown and yellow. The purple fruit has a denser skin and texture while the greenish brown fruit has a thin skin and a more liquid pulp; the yellow variety is less common and difficult to find.

A number of closely related species, also called star apples, are grown in Africa, including C. albidum and C. africanum.[3]

In Vietnam, the most famous variety is Lò Rèn milk fruit coming from Vĩnh Kim commune, Châu Thành district, Tiền Giang province.

In Sierra Leone the fruit is referred to as “Bobi wata” or breast milk fruit.

In literature

The Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott immortalizes the fruit as a symbol of the Caribbean itself in his 1979 collection, The Star-Apple Kingdom.

Written on June 18th, 2012 , Fruits Tags:

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