The star apple Chrysophyllum cainito, is one of the most attractive
tropical fruits so far as its foliage. This evergreen tree, native to tropical
America, can reach a height of 40 to 50 feet in its native areas, but in
Florida it rarely reaches more than 40 feet with about the same width. The
trees have very attractive leaves which are deep green above and a silky
golden brown beneath and as the wind rustles the foliage this gives a strikingly
Trees can grow over a wide range of soils and are one of the few
trees that actually grows well in highly alkaline soils, even at pH's up
to 7.5. Tiny inconspicuous flowers are produced during the summer through
early fall. Trees produce a delicious fruit too, and the fruits are born
during the early to late spring. The fruit size can be from 2-1/2 to 3 inches
in diameter and there are two varieties, one with purple skin and one with
green skin. Both have very sweet whitish flesh which is very good and is
usually eaten as a fresh fruit.
Trees grow rapidly, often three to four feet or more in a single
growing season. Propagation can be by seed, air layering, or grafting. One
of the major problems to the widespread use of the star apple in Florida
is its sensitivity to cold. It will get very badly damaged at 29° to
30°F and mature trees can be frozen to the ground by hard freezes. It
cannot be planted close to salt water because it also has poor salt tolerance
and should be protected by buildings or other more salt tolerant plantings
if used close to the ocean or Intracoastal areas. There are no serious pest
problems of trees except birds and other animals that attack maturing fruit.
There are some named varieties of star apple available from nurseries
but they are difficult to find. The 'Haitian' variety, introduced by William
Whitman, which is dark purple, is one of the more common ones seen as
grafted plants. Many nurseries that propagate star apples do so simply
by planting seeds. Seedlings take about six years or more to bear fruit
and if you want superior varieties, plant seedlings and then try to get
graft wood from mature bearing trees and do shield budding, or veneer grafting.
Trees can also be air layered but air layering usually takes four to six
months to be successful.
PLEASE NOTE that Articles and
Photographs and Art on this site and pages are copyright © and
may not be reproduced without permission of the copyright holder.
Back to First Page
© 2000 BGCII Page originaly posted March 2004