Averrhoa bilimbi L.

Last updated: 27 Jun 2016

Scientific Name

Averrhoa bilimbi L.


Averrhoa abtusangulata Stokes, Averrhoa obtusangula Stokes [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Belimbing asam, blimbing wuluh, belimbing buluk [2], belimbing, belimbing besi, belimbing buloh, [3]
English Bilimbi, cucumber tree [2], tree sorrel [3]
China San lian [3], huang gua shu, mu hu gua, xiang yang tao [4]
India Belambu, bilimbi, kamaranga (Hindu); belambu, bilimbi, bimbli, bimbuli (Kannada); bimbul (Konkani); bilimbi, belimbi, bilimpi, elumbipuli, ilimbai, irumbanpuli, irumpuli, kariccakka, orakkapuli, pulinchi, seemapuli, vilimbi, vilumbi, vilumpi, wilamju, wilumpi (Malayalam); heinahom (Manipuri); bilamba, bilambi (Marathi); koch-chit-tamarttai, pulich-chakkay, vilumbi, pilimpi, puli-c-cankay, pilimbi, bilimbi, pulicha, pulichai, pilichi, koccit tamarattai, puliccakkay, puliccakkaymaram, pulima (Tamil); bilibili, bilimbi, bilumbi, gommareku, pulusukaya, pulasukaya (Telugu) [4]
Indonesia Belimbing, belimbing asam, belimbing besi, belimbing buloh, belimbing buluk, blimbing wuluh [3]
Thailand Taling pling [2], bli-ming, ka-ling-pring, ling-pring, ta-ling-pling [3], ta-ling-pring, kaling pring
Philippines Kalingiwa (Bisaya); kiling-iba (Bikol); iba (Cebu Bisaya); pias (Iloko); puis Igorot); ibag (Manobo); iba (Panay Bisaya); iba (Sulu); Iba, kamias, kolonanas, kolonauas, kalamias (Tagalog); ibe (Yakan) [4]
Cambodia Trâlông töng [2][3]
Vietnam Khê tau [2][3]
Japan Birinbi [4]
Tanzania Mbilimbi, mbirimbi [3]
Germany Bilimbi, Gurkenbaum [4]
France Cornichonier [2], blimblim, blinblin, carambolier, bilimbi, cornichomier, cornichon des indes, zibeline, zibeline blonde [4]
Spain Bilimbí, grosella China, mimbro, pepino de indias, tiriguro, vinagrillo [4].

Geographical Distributions

Some authors seek the origin of Averrhoa bilimbi in tropical America (Brazil), from where it supposedly was taken to the Philippines. However, most authors support the Southeast Asian origin, for instance because there is a Sanskrit name for carambola. Moreover, the distribution of A. bilimbi in tropical America can be traced to its introduction from Timor to Jamaica in 1793. A. bilimbi is now grown allover the humid tropics. [2]

Botanical Description

A. bilimbi is a member of the Oxalidaceae family. It is a sparsely branched tree, branches stiff, thick, upright. The leaves are 7-19-jugate. [2]

The flowers are usually in cauliflorous panicles and heterotristylous. The 10-20 mm long petals are free and red-purple. Stamens are short. [2]

The fruit is slightly lobed, up to 10 cm x 5 cm. The seeds lack aril. [2]


A. bilimbi prefers a climate with a dry season, thriving where teak (Tectona grandis L.f.) is at home but also do well in wetter climates. A. bilimbi grows up to 500 m altitude on Java. This species has a high water requirement, but it needs well-drained soils, pH 5.5-6.5, and grows well on peat. Drought, flooding and salinity are not tolerated. Wind breaks are recommended on exposed sites. [2]

Chemical Constituent

No documentation.

Plant Part Used

Leaves, flowers and fruits. [5][6][7]

Traditional Use

A. bilimbi leaves are used for the treatment of stomachache, and parotitis. The fruit is used to treat dyspepsia, colitis and also dental caries. It is also used to treat bleeding haemorrhoids, bleeding gums, mouth ulcers, dental caries and to alleviate internal haemorrhoids. Infusion of the flowers is a remedy for mouth ulcers and oral thrush. [5][6][7]

A. bilimbi flowers are used to treat cough, while the fruits is used for the more sinister whooping cough where the juice extracted from 10 fruits is mixed with salt and given to the patient. Conserves of the fruit can also be given for cough. [5][6][7][8][9][10]

A. bilimbi fruits are used in the treatment of infective conditions like acne, mumps, and abscesses. Paste of the leaves is applied over joints for relieve of rheumatic pains. [5][7][8][9][10]

A. bilimbi had been advocated for the treatment of hypertension and diabetes by the use of various parts of the plant by different society. In Indonesia the fruit is used to treat hypertension and the decoction of the leaves is for diabetes. The Indians made used of the leaves, flowers and fruits to treat both hypertension and diabetes. The fruit is also used for tinea versicolor, beri-beri, and fever. [5][6][7][8][9][10][11]

Preclinical Data


Antidiabetic activity

A series of studies has been done on the hypoglycaemic activity of the A. bilimbi leaves. Their initial work was with ethanolic extract of the leaves whence they found that it was able to reduce blood glucose levels by 50% and the blood triglyceride levels by 130%. It was found that it also increase the HDL-cholesterol level by 60% and reduced the kidney lipid peroxidation level but did not affect the total cholesterol and the LDL-cholesterol concentration. [12][13][14]

Antihypercholesterolemic activity

A. bilimbi  fruit and aqueous extract of the A. bilimbi  fruit showed remarkable antihypercholesterolaemic activity. General toxicity evaluation of the fruit in mice did not show any toxic symptoms in doses up to 1 g/kg over 15 days. [15]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of A. bilimbi [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Averrhoa bilimbi L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Jun 17]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-2666745
  2. Samson JA. Averrhoa L. In: Verheij EWM, Coronel RE, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 2: Edible fruits and nuts. Wageningen, Netherlands: Pudoc, 1991; p. 96-98.
  3. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume I A-B. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 493-494.
  4. Lim TK. Edible medicinal and non-medicinal plants. Volume 1, fruits. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer, 2012; p. 448-490.
  5. Dalimartha S. Atlas tumbuhan obat Indonesia Jilid 5. Jakarta: Pustaka Bunda, 2008; p. 6 -10.
  6. Peter KV, ed. Underutilized and underexploited horticultural crops. Volume 2. New Delhi: New India Publishing, 2007; p. 47.
  7. World Agroforestry Centre. The Agroforestree Database. Averrhoa bilimbi. [homepage on the Internet]. c2016 [cited 2016 Jun 27]. Available from: http://www.worldagroforestry.org/treedb2/speciesprofile.php?Spid=17943
  8. Janick J, Robert E. Paull RE. The encyclopedia of fruit & nuts. Oxfordshire: CABI, 2008; p. 575.
  9. Ong HC. Sayuran: Khasiat makanan & ubatan. Kuala Lumpur: Utusan Publications; 2003. p. 26-27.
  10. Ong HC. Rempah-ratus: khasiat makanan & ubatan. Kuala Lumpur: Utusan Publications & Distributors Sdn Bhd., 2008; p. 70-71.
  11. DruryH. The useful plants of India. 2nd ed. London: William H. Allen & Co., 1873; p. 57-58.
  12. Pushparaj P, Tan CH, Tan BK. Effects of Averrhoa bilimbi leaf extract on blood glucose and lipids in streptozotocin-diabetic rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000;72(1-2):69-76.
  13. Pushparaj PN, Tan BK, Tan CH. The mechanism of hypoglycemic action of the semi-purified fractions of Averrhoa bilimbi in streptozotocin-diabetic rats. Life Sci. 2001;70(5):535-547.
  14. Tan BK, Tan CH, Pushparaj PN. Anti-diabetic activity of the semi-purified fractions of Averrhoa bilimbi in high fat diet fed-streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Life Sci. 2005;76(24):2827-2839.
  15. Ambili S, Subramoniam A, Nagarajan NS. Studies on the antihyperlipidemic properties of Averrhoa bilimbi fruit in rats. Planta Med. 2009;75(1):55-58.