Species Guide: Rare Fruit Trees

Belimbing Buluh

A belimbing buluh tree with radial leaf clusters. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Common name: Cucumber Tree, Tree Sorrel, Bilimbi

Malay name: Belimbing Buluh, Belimbing Masam

Scientific name: Averrhoa bilimbi L.

Conservation status: Cultivated, Native to Malaysia


A small tree of 5-10m tall. Trunks are short and divided into upright branches. Leaves are oblong, usually clustered at the branch tips. It bears small, fragrant, purplish-red flowers which are grouped into drooping clusters. Each cluster comprises about 60 flowers. Fruits are somewhat cylindrical or slightly pentagonal, glossy, green to light yellow.

Habit: Perennial tree

Cultivation: It is planted by seeds

Ecological function: The flowers attract pollinators. It is a caterpillar food plant. This plant is bird-attracting.

Pollinator: Bees, butterflies, self-pollinate

Soil: Fertile loamy soils

Moisture: Moist, well-drained soils

Shade: No shade

Use: The fruits are edible. It is often used as souring agent for dishes and beverages.

By ShangMing

A plant lover. I like small, medium, gigantic, ordinary, exotic, local, foreign plants. Just because they thrive to stand out.