Rising star apple: A fruit you've by no means heard of

Have you ever had a star apple? If not, this delicious fruit is definitely something to try.

Star apples are actually not apples, but a tropical fruit common in South America and Asia. In the United States, they are usually only found in Hawaii and Florida (ideal for tastings on vacation!). The outside of the fruit is dark purple and has the shape of a round apple. When sliced, the edible flesh is soft and milky, with seeds shaped like a star. Because it tastes so sweet, star apple is often used in fruit salads and desserts.

The fruit is not the only attraction here! The tree itself is very beautiful. Leaf tops glow in a shiny green and underneath there is a beautiful gold tone. This is tempting when the leaves rustle in the wind. For this reason, star apple trees are both excellent ornamental plants and fruit producers.

Good products for growing Star Apple:

quick start Guide

The star apple tree offers both delicious tropical fruits and lush foliage. Source: Starr

Common Name (s) Star apple, gold leaf, milk fruit
Scientific name Chrysophyllum cainito
Month (s) of harvest Late winter to early summer
light Full sun
Water: Deep, even pouring
ground Well draining
fertilizer 3-4 times a year
pests Red algae, fruit flies, moth larvae
Diseases Algae leaf stain, dry rot, fungal root rot

All about star apples

Chrysophyllum cainito is a tropical plant that normally only grows in its home countries, as well as in Hawaii and southern Florida. If you live in zones 10-11, this tree may be the perfect solution for you. Unfortunately, it is not suitable for indoor growing.

Adult trees can reach 25 feet or more. With the right pruning, they can be trained to become a little smaller. The canopy is round and dense, which makes it an excellent source of shade. In addition, fruits rarely fall on you! If no strong wind displaces the fruits, they stay on the plant and dry into hard, round balls.

In late summer and autumn, conical flower clusters with purple flowers form. The harvest is ready in late winter or early spring. These trees are self-fertile, which means that they don't need a second tree for cross pollination.

Cainito is said to have a distinctive aroma at night when it attracts nocturnal pollinators. The fragrance is alternately described as "earthy" or "unpleasant". This attracts the right insects to cope with pollination.

Chrysophyllum cainito is often misspelled as Caimito. This means that it is often confused with Pouteria caimito, also called Abiu. Since these are very different species, you should take this into account when buying your plant.

Recommended varieties

Harvested star apple fruitStar apples can be either green or purple. Source: Starr

diversity description Where to buy
Haitian star A common variety with purple skin. Buy seeds
Blanco Star This variety is greenish-yellow and slightly smaller than the Haitian star. Buy seeds

Plant Cainito

When planting your star apple, ensure a stable environment in which it can thrive. If you give him the special care he needs as a young tree, you will be rewarded with delicious fruits!

When to plant

This species is usually grown from seeds, but can also be bought as a seedling. When you buy a sapling, choose one that is healthy and young. Older are more tied to the root. It can be planted in the warmest regions from spring to autumn and even in winter.

Where to plant

Zones 10-11 have the right climate to grow this plant. It needs an outdoor location with little wind. Strong wind can strip the leaves and damage the plant, especially young seedlings. These don't work well indoors.

Choose a place where the sun shines in whole or in part. Cainito can be planted as an ornamental plant in a large, sturdy container, but does not produce many fruits. When planted in the ground, they can be quite large and take up a lot of space. 10-25 feet between trees is recommended.

How to plant

The seeds germinate easily and are viable for several months. Plant them about an inch deep in a small container that is kept outdoors. Once the seeds have taken root and are actively growing, you can transplant into the soil or into a larger container.

If you want to start with a sapling, it can be planted directly in the ground. Dig a hole three times wider and deeper than the root ball. Once you've done this, refill the hole until it is the right size. It doesn't seem intuitive, but it loosens the soil enough for the roots to spread easily.

Now you can put the star apple in the hole and fill the rest of the earth. Gently wrap up the top to compress any large air pockets. If necessary, you can place posts on both sides of the trunk and use natural fiber cords or strips of fabric to support the tree. Avoid slender wires as they can cut into the bark.


Underside of star apple foliageWhen you look into the canopy, the yellow undersides of the leaves are visible. Source: Dinesh Valke

Once established in the right environment, they are easy to maintain! Here are our top tips for star apple success.

Light & temperature

As a tropical plant, Cainito needs full sun and warmth. It tolerates partial light well, but is not flexible in terms of temperature. Freezing temperatures and frost cause damage and can even kill the plant. Seedlings are most at risk from cold damage.

The temperature should always remain above 40 ° F. Anything that is colder can cause leaves to fall.

Water & humidity

The Cainito transposes, that is, it releases moisture through the bark, just like humans sweat. Hot weather increases perspiration, so it takes a lot of water. After planting, water your baby tree at least once a week for the first 6 months and more if the soil dries out quickly. After that, you can pour less often, but still deeply. Soaker hoses can ensure slow, even moisture distribution.

Do not water in late autumn and early winter while the tree is preparing to bloom. Once it blooms, frequent watering is required to boost fruit production.

Remember that star apple does not need excessively moist soil. If it is constantly over-watered, the roots can rot.


This type is quite versatile when it comes to soil and pH. It grows well in a variety of soil types. However, the soil must be well drained. Otherwise the tree can easily be over-watered.

Mulching is optional, but prevents soil moisture from evaporating and keeps weeds away. Apply 3-6 "deep in a circle that approximates the width of the tree tops. Leave at least 6 inches of space between the mulch and the trunk itself to avoid possible decay damage.


Ripe and unripe Chrysophyllum cainito fruitThe fruit ripens on the tree, not after harvest. Here you can see both ripe and unripe fruit. Source: Starr

Some tropical areas have very fertile soils that need no change. However, if your soil is poor, you may need to provide additional fertilizer. This should only be applied to the topsoil and not underground when the tree is planted.

Fertilize the tree every other month for the first year of life. Then only fertilize once a season. A standard fruit tree fertilizer should work well for this plant.

Alkaline soils can prevent this plant from absorbing iron and other nutrients. If you notice that the leaves turn yellow, this is called chlorosis and is often caused by an iron deficiency. Chelated iron can provide enough iron to keep the tree green and healthy.

Pruning / training

Pruning is necessary to keep the Chrysophyllum cainito at an ideal size. Since the fruits do not fall off when they are ripe, keep them at a height that you can harvest. Cut every 1-3 years as needed to maintain shape. When the tree is fully grown, maintain a bush roof that boosts fruit production.

Training at a young age ensures a healthy and long-lived, mature tree. This species often develops multiple strains. Pick the healthiest of these strains to keep and cut off others at ground level.

Sterilize the blades of your pruning shears or pruning shears before making cuts. This reduces the spread of plant diseases.


Star apple trees can be grown from seeds, although it will take 5-10 years for them to bear fruit.

Cuttings from mature wood can form roots well. Follow the usual cutting care methods while trying to get them to take root. Some root hormones can be useful.

If you have an older plant whose branches have been lost due to damage, but are otherwise healthy, grafting new branches onto old rhizomes is a good option. This method is usually very effective.

Chrysophyllum cainito can also be grafted onto the satin leaf tree (Chrisophyllum oliviforme L.). The result is a smaller, slower growing plant, so this method is not always recommended.

Harvest and store

Close-up of star apple fruit and leavesThe stem must be cut to harvest the fruits. Note the two-tone leaves. Source: Cerlin Ng

These sweet purple and green fruits take a lot of effort to harvest, but it's worth it. The high yields ensure that your refrigerator is always full!


Ripe plants bear fruit from late winter to early summer. The fruits don't often fall off by themselves, so everything has to be picked by hand. Star apple fruits only ripen on the tree, so pick them when they're done!

When ripe, the product has a matte color, is slightly soft and slightly wrinkled. If the skin is shiny, it is not yet fully ripe.

Unripe fruits have inedible and sticky white latex stains on the inside. The fully ripened pulp should be soft and sweet and should not contain any sticky latex.

Harvest the milk fruit by cutting it off the tree. Pulling them off can damage stems and branches.

In one season, these trees can produce up to 150 pounds of fruit. Prepare yourself for many harvests!


Star apples are best eaten fresh, but can be stored at short notice. They cool well for about 2-3 weeks. The cold air slows down the ripening process, which means that the fruit lasts longer but does not stop. Some unripe fruits may not fully ripen in the refrigerator.

Sliced ​​fruit, which is kept in a plastic bag, stays in the fridge for about a week. Uncut, it can be kept in an open plastic bag in the fridge for a few weeks. You can freeze the pulp, but its texture changes a bit.

For long-term storage, look for Cainito recipes that can be stored in a conventional manner. Dehydration or freeze-drying are not usually used, but there are recipes for frozen sorbets and jellies. Due to its high sugar and water content, it can spoil quickly after harvest if it is not preserved in this way.

Troubleshoot Star Apple Tree

Cut the star apple showing interiorA star can be seen in the middle of the fruit. Source: Starr

Chrysophyllum cainito generally has few pest and disease problems. However, you should check them regularly so that problems can be identified early.

Growing problems

As mentioned in the fertilizer section, star apple trees are prone to iron deficiency. If you add chelation iron to the floor, you can remedy the situation. If you gradually neutralize the pH of the soil from an alkaline state, iron absorption will also improve.

Damage to the trunk can severely affect the health of the tree. To avoid damage from lawnmowers, keep the ground around the trunk at least one foot free of grass. Do not use a weed cutter around the trunk.


fruit flies are a common nuisance in the kitchen, but can also affect fruit on the tree. These annoying flies lay eggs on ripe fruit and may carry harmful bacteria. To prevent this, harvest ripe fruit and keep the area clean. Check existing populations of fruit fly traps.

Larvae of butterflies can eat the flowers and fruits. Prevent this by using pheromone traps to reduce the population. If the pests get out of control, use BT spray to get rid of them.


Red algae can attack the leaves, the trunk and the branches. It forms gray or reddish spots, adds weight to the tree and can split the bark. Algae growth is often a symptom of other tree health problems, such as root rot. Remove algae manually or by spraying with a liquid copper fungicide.

Algal leaf spot, also called green scab, creates nasty spots on leathery leaves. Over time, the leaves turn yellow and fall off the tree. Like red algae, the tree is most vulnerable when it is not healthy. Common treatments for leaf spots help. Remove dead / diseased leaves from the tree and soil. Make sure the tree is pruned so that air can flow through the tree tops.

Star apples can get blight if they are not harvested, if they are ripe. This is usually caused by infections with fungi or bacteria. The infection causes the fruit to shrink, dry and "mummify". Prevent this by pruning for good ventilation and keeping the tree and area clean. Harvest when the fruit is ripe.

In case of over watering different Pilzwurzelfäule can start. Since these can kill the tree, prevention is the best option.

frequently asked Questions

Q. How do you eat a star apple?

A. Cut the fruit open and spoon out the flesh like a grapefruit. The skin, core and stone-like seeds are inedible. Avoid this. Star apples are best eaten fresh, chilled or in desserts.

Question: How long will it take for a star apple to bear fruit?

A. If grown from seeds, it can take 5-10 years to bear fruit.

Q: What does star apple fruit taste like?

A: It is a tropical, sweet fruit. The edible flesh is reminiscent of a mixture of persimmon, apples and lychee. Remember that the skin is inedible, as are the seeds.

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