The Starfruit tree is native to Sri Lanka and the Moluccas, and has been cultivated in Malaysia and Southeast Asia for almost 1000 years.
At only about 5m, the Starfruit tree is a small, slow-growing evergreen tree or tall shrub. It has a short trunk and drooping branches, giving it a bushy shape and a broad crown. The wood is white and turns reddish. The leaves are ovate and slightly oblong in shape. The upper surface of the leaf is smooth while the underside is whitish and has fine hairs. The leaflets are sensitive to light and tend to fold together at night.
Small clusters of red-stalked lilac flowers are produced in the axils of leaves at the end of twigs. The perfect flowers are bell-shaped and produced in loose panicles.
The Starfruit derived its name for its fruit. The cross-section of the fruit is a star shape. The fruits are oblong and about 15cm long. They have a thin, waxy, greenish, yellow-orange skin. The fruits are juicy and yellow on the inside when ripe and have a crisp texture. The fruits taste sweet and mildly acidic. Each fruit contains up to 12 flat, thin, and brown seeds.
The juice of the fruit can be used to clean and polish metal as it dissolves tarnish and rust.