In the U.S, carambolas, or star fruit, are grown commercially in southern Florida and Hawaii. Commercial growers can be found in Dade, Lee, Broward, Palm Beach and small producers popping up in Collier County.
Star fruit can be known as tart, but recent seeds and fruit from Thailand, Taiwan, and Malaysia have introduced sweeter cultivars. The one featured below is called, “Shri Kembangen” and is tasty and sweet.
Carambolas have two major blooms here in south Florida, usually April – May and then September – October. However, some blooms are found on the tree throughout the year. The harvest season peaks during August – September and again in December – February. Usually you’ll find a few fruits here and there on the tree throughout the year.
As trees mature, fruit production will increase rapidly so keep that in mind! By years 5 and 6, you’re looking at 100 to 150 lbs of fruit per tree and it only goes up from there. We always encourage backyard and commercial producers to keep low, lateral branches and remove vigorous upright shoots that cause the tree to become too tall and picking the fruit becomes too hard (read, more equipment and labor!). It’s also a good idea to remove the small dead branches that are pretty common in the canopy. Removing these will encourage new growth.
Carambola fruit doesn’t get sweeter after picking and so for optimum flavor pick when fruit turn from green to a yellow color in the furrow between the ribs while the tips of the ribs (also called fins) remain green.
There is increasing interest on the profitability of tropical fruit crops, this publication reports the costs and returns of operating an established carambola grove in south Florida FE1079/FE1079: Sample Profitability and Cost Estimates of Producing Sweet Carambola (Averrhoa carambola) in south Florida (ufl.edu)
Get a full list of cultivars and tips for backyard growers here:HS12/MG269: Carambola Growing in the Florida Home Landscape (ufl.edu)