Bowl of exotic tropical fruit - Exotic Tropical Fruit - Cape Tribulation Cape Trib Exotic Fruit Farm at Cape Tribulation
Bed and Breakfast accommodation on the edge of the Daintree Rainforest  at Cape Tribulationand white-lipped tree frog
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Stories articles and news abot Alison and Digby Gotts


The Samoan Experience
Three days in Tafua
EcoTour Samoa
The Samoan Election
Pruning the Mangoes
Climbing Mt SiliSili
Fourth week in Samoa

Samoan Observer Articles:

Why is there no fruit on my mango?
Want more mangoes next year?
Green oranges or orange oranges?
In search of a Samoan Orange
The Hardest Cut
Rambutan - hairy thing from the forest
Rambutan revisited
Abiu - the emporer's golden fruit
Avocado - fruit or vegetable?
Carambola - star of the rainforest
Durian - the extreme tropical fruit
Rollinia - lemon meringue pies growing in the garden
Sex and the single pawpaw
Soursop - a taste sensation
The mulch story
Do it yourself pest control
The joys of soapy water!
The hungry fruit tree
Positive insects



(One of a series of articles about growing fruit trees in Samoa, written by Digby Gotts and published in the 'Samoa Observer' between December 2000 and April 2001)

Carambola, or Vineka in Samoan, is a common fruit seen around the island in many places but rarely in the markets. The Samoan name explains the problem! This fruit is guaranteed to make you pucker up with its vinegarish flavour. The seeds grow easily from dropped and discarded fruits, and it is the fruit from these wild trees grown to adulthood that have destroyed the reputation of the rest of the family. A pity, because there is no other tropical fruit as crisp and refreshing as the fruit from one of the grafted varieties. These have been selected for their sweetness and are usually highly accepted when offered around at Nafanua’s fruit workshops.

The fruit are usually eaten fresh, but make a most acceptable pickle when cooked up with various spices and vinegar or a jam when cooked with sugar. They can be picked when the yellow colour just starts to develop and the fruit will continue to ripen after picking. They are best eaten when they are mostly yellow, after trimming away any green edges on the wings. The green colour contains oxalic acid which has a very bitter taste best removed.

At home in the rainforests of Indonesia, these trees can grow to 15 meters, so it is a good idea to keep them smaller, removing any branches going vertically or tying them down to a rock. Fruit grow in large bunches just back from the actively growing ends, so these can be cut back a little at a time without losing fruit. Feeding the tree is also best done a little at a time, with up to 2 kilograms of NPK for each adult tree every year along with a micronutrient spray every month. Happy trees can produce hundreds of kilograms of fruit every year!

Pest problems mainly revolve around control of the fruit piercing moth, which also prefers the sweet varieties. For the home tree this is most easily done using old newspaper to cover most of each bunch of fruit as they approach full size. Use staples or clothes pegs to hold the bag closed and arrange the paper so that no water sits on it. This will last for several months in the weather, ample time for the final ripening to take place. Check the bunch every few days to ensure that you don’t miss the harvest. For commercial growers, there is no real alternative to covering the whole tree with moth proof netting for every harvest. They also need to ensure that the tree is kept pruned, preventing it from growing through the net and damaging it. The fruits are also attractive to mealy bugs, which can most easily be controlled by stopping the movement of ants up and down the tree with sticky bands.

Grafted carambola are available from Nafanua Horticulture Centre as is more information about these taste tempters.


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Last updated November 6, 2014