« | Home | »

Growing Kamias and Its Many Uses

By Pinoy Farmer | August 20, 2009
Bookmark and Share


Kamias (Averrhoa bilimbi) is a mall tree growing 5 to 12 meters high. Leaves are pinnate, 20-60 cm long, with hairy rachis and leaflets. Leaflets are opposite, 10 to 17 pairs, oblong, 5 to 10 cm in length. Flowers, about 1.5 cm long, and slightly fragrant. Fruit, green and edible, about 4 cm long, subcylindric with 5 obscure, broad, rounded, longitudinal lobes.

In Malaysia, it is called belimbing asam; in Indonesia, it is belimbing besu; in Thailand, it is taling pling, or kaling pring. To the French it is carambolier bilimbi, or cornichon des Indes. Filipinos generally call it kamias but there are about a dozen other native names.

Food Uses

Kamias is generally regarded as too acid for eating raw, but in Costa Rica, the green, uncooked fruits are prepared as a relish which is served with rice and beans. Sometimes it is an accompaniment for fish and meat. Ripe fruits are frequently added to curries in the Far East. They yield 44.2% juice having a pH of 4.47, and the juice is popular for making cooling beverages on the order of lemonade.

To reduce acidity, it may be first pricked and soaked in water overnight, or soaked in salted water for a shorter time; then it is boiled with much sugar to make a jam or an acid jelly. Half-ripe fruits are salted, set out in the sun, and pickled in brine and can be thus kept for 3 months. A quicker pickle is made by putting the fruits and salt into boiling water. This product can be kept only 4 to 5 days.

The flowers are sometimes preserved with sugar.

Food Value Per 100 g of Edible Portion*

*According to analyses of fruits studied in Nicaragua and the Philippines.

Other Uses

Fruit: Very acid kamias are employed to clean the blade of a kris (dagger), and they serve as mordants in the preparation of an orange dye for silk fabrics. Kamias juice, because of its oxalic acid content, is useful for bleaching stains from the hands and rust from white cloth, and also tarnish from brass.

Wood: The wood is white, soft but tough, even-grained, and weighs 35 lbs/cu ft. It is seldom available for carpentry.

Medicinal Uses: In the Philippines, the leaves are applied as a paste or poulticed on itches, swellings of mumps and rheumatism, and on skin eruptions. Elsewhere, they are applied on bites of poisonous creatures. Malayans take the leaves fresh or fermented as a treatment for venereal disease. A leaf infusion is a remedy for coughs and is taken after childbirth as a tonic. A leaf decoction is taken to relieve rectal inflammation. A flower infusion is said to be effective against coughs and thrush.

In Java, the fruits combined with pepper are eaten to cause sweating when people are feeling “under the weather”. A paste of pickled kamias is smeared all over the body to hasten recovery after a fever. The fruit conserve is administered as a treatment for coughs, beri-beri and biliousness. A syrup prepared from the fruit is taken as a cure for fever and inflammation and to stop rectal bleeding and alleviate internal hemorrhoids.

Traditional Uses “Folkloric Uses”


Sources:  stuartxchange.org

Topics: Crops & Vegetables | 4 Comments »

4 Responses to “Growing Kamias and Its Many Uses”

  1. Alex Says:
    September 15th, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    I’m French, and I didn’t know the “cornichon des indes”. Funny. Thanks

  2. Gin dequito Says:
    September 16th, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Good to hear that Kamias have many uses.May I ask that kamias is suitable for soap and others.


  3. Irma Baynosa Says:
    November 30th, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Can you please advise if drinking hot water soaked with dried skin of kamias tree not good for pregnant women? What will be the result if you happen to be drinking it without knowing that you are pregnant? Your prompt response to my query is much, much, much appreciated. Thank you and more power!

  4. Christine Says:
    June 28th, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    I’m a high school student and I’m very interested to the kamias plant since and I want to make it as useful thing for our investigatory project and I just want to thank you for giving me some good ideas…THANKS