Star apple Description Star apple (Chrysophyllum cainito) is a tropical American tree, of the sapodilla family (Sapotaceae), native to the West Indies and Central America. It is cultivated for its edible fruit, which is the size and shape of an apple and is named for the star- shaped core. The surface of the fruit is firm and smooth. Both the skin and the flesh, which is sweet and tasty, vary in colour, ranging from white to purple. The star apple tree is erect, 25 to 100 ft (8-30 m) tall, with a short trunk to 3 ft(l m) thick, and a dense, broad crown, brown-hairy branchlets, and white, gummy latex.
The alternate, nearly evergreen, leaves are elliptic or oblong-elliptic, 2 to 6 in (5-15 cm) long, slightly leathery, rich green and glossy on the upper surface, coated with silky, golden-brown pubescence beneath when mature, though silvery when young. Small, inconspicuous flowers, clustered in the leaf axils, are greenish-yellow, yellow, or purplish-white with tubular, 5-10bed corolla and 5 or 6 sepals. The fruit, round, oblate, ellipsoid or somewhat pear-shaped, 2 to 4 in (5-10 cm) in diameter, may be red-purple, dark- purple, or pale-green. It feels in the hand like a rubber ball.
The glossy, smooth, thin, leathery skin adheres tightly to the inner rind which, in purple fruits, is dark-purple and 1/4 to 1/2 in (6-12. 5 mm) thick; in green fruits, white and 1/8 to 3/16 in. (3-5 mm) thick. Both have soft, white, milky, sweet pulp surrounding the 6 to 11 gelatinous, somewhat rubbery, seed cells in the center which, when cut through transversely, are seen to radiate from the central core like an asterisk or many-pointed star, giving the fruit its common English name. The fruit may have up to 10 flattened, nearly oval, ointed, hard seeds, 3/4 in (2 cm. long, nearly 1/2 in (1. 25 cm) wide, and up to 1/4 in (6 mm) thick, but usually several of the cells are not occupied and the best fruits have as few as 3 seeds. They appear black at first, with a light area on the ventral side, but they dry to a light-brown. Origin and Distribution It is commonly stated that the star apple is indigenous to Central America but the eminent botanists Paul Standley and Louis Williams have declared that it is not native to that area, no Nahuatl name has been found, and the tree may properly belong to he West Indies.
However, it is more or less naturalized at low and medium altitudes from southern Mexico to Panama, is especially abundant on the Pacific side of Guatemala, and frequently cultivated as far south as northern Argentina and Peru. It was recorded by Ciezo de Leon as growing in Peru during his travels between 1532 and 1550. It is common throughout most of the Caribbean Islands and in Bermuda. In Haiti, the star apple was the favorite fruit of King Christophe and he held court under the shade of a very large specimen at Milot. The United States Department of
Agriculture received seeds from Jamaica in 1904 (S. P. I. #17093). The star apple is grown occasionally in southern Florida and in Hawaii where it was introduced before 1901. There are some trees in Samoa and in Malaya though they do not bear regularly. The tree is grown in southern Vietnam and in Kampuchea for its fruits but more for its ornamental value in West Tropical Africa, Zanzibar, and the warmer parts of India. It was introduced into Ceylon in 1802, reached the Philippines much later out nas Decome very common tnere as a roaas10e tree ana tne Trult Is appreclatea Medicinal Uses
The ripe fruit, because of its mucilaginous character, is eaten to sooth inflammation in laryngitis and pneumonia. It is given as a treatment for diabetes mellitus, and as a decoction is gargled to relieve angina. In Venezuela, the slightly unripe fruits are eaten to overcome intestinal disturbances. In excess, they cause constipation. A decoction of the rind, or of the leaves, is taken as a pectoral. A decoction of the tannin-rich, astringent bark is drunk as a tonic and stimulant, and is taken to halt diarrhea, dysentery and hemorrhages, and as a treatment for gonorrhea and “catarrh f the bladder”.
The bitter, pulverized seed is taken as a tonic, diuretic and febrifuge. Cuban residents in Miami are known to seek the leaves in order to administer the decoction as a cancer remedy. Many high-tannin plant materials are believed by Latin Americans to be carcinostatic. In Brazil, the latex of the tree is applied on abscesses and, when dried and powdered, is given as a potent vermifuge. Elsewhere, it is taken as a diuretic, febrifuge and remedy for dysentery. Studies Antioxidant: (1) Polyphenolic Antioxidants from the Fruits of Chrysophyllum cainito: A tudy on fruit extracts yielded nine known phenolic antioxidants. 2) Study of extracts of 12 edible fruits showed nine to exhibit high antioxidant activity; C cainito yielded cyanidin-3-O-??-glucopyranoside, an anthocyaninc antioxidant. Vasorelaxant: A preliminary study on the relaxant effect of the crude extract and fractions of the bark of Chrysophyllum cainito L. in isolated rat thoracic aorta: Methanolic bark extract study on rats showed vasorelaxant activity on the smooth muscle. Lectin Activity: Plant samples of 178 species and 62 families were studied for lectin activity.
Potent lectins possessing more than 100,000 unites per gram were found in the fruits extracts of C arabica and Chrysophyllum cainito. Antidiabetic Activity: Study of the aqueous decoction of C cainito leaves showed hypoglycemic activity at doses of 20 VI. From 30 VI, the plant would exert a toxic effect. Hypotensive Effect: Phytochemical study attributes the hypotensive effect flavonoids with vasodilation effect and inhibition of adrenergic receptors. Sources: http://www. hort. purdue. edu/newcrop/morton/star_apple. html http://stuartxchange. com/Caimito. html