Family • Oxalidaceae - Averrhoa bilimbi L. - BILIMBI TREE - Huang gua shu

Scientific names

Averrhoa bilimbi L.

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Ma hu gua, Xiang yang tao.
CREOLE: Bimbling plum, Blimblin.
FRENCH : Carambolier bilimbi, Cornichon des Indes, Zibeline.
GERMAN : Bilimbinaum, Gurkenbaum.
HINDI: Bilimbi.
JAPANESE: Birinbi, Nagabanogorenshi.
KHMER: Tralong tong.
MALAY : Belimbing asam, Belimbing besu, Belimbing buloh, Belimbing wuluh.
RUSSIAN: Bilimbi.
SPANISH : Grosella china, Pepino de Indias, Mimbro, Vinagrillo.
THAI: Tàling pling, Kaling pring.
VIETNAMESE : Kh? ng?t , Kh? tàu.

Common names

Iba (C. Bis., P. Bis., Sul., Tag.)
Ibag (Mbo.)
Ibe (Yak.)
Kamias (Tag.)
Kolonanas (Tag.)
Kolonauas (Tag.)
Kalamias (Tag.)
Kalingiwa (Bis.)
Kiling-iba (Bik.)
Pias (Ilk.)
Puis (Ig.)
Bilimibi (Engl.)
Bilimbi tree (Engl.)
Cucumber tree (Engl.)
Tree sorrel (Engl.)
Huang gua shu (Chin.)


Kamias is a small tree, growing 5 to 12 meters high. Leaves are pinnate, 20 to 60 centimeters long, with hairy rachis and leaflets. Leaflets are opposite, 10 to 17 pairs, oblong, 5 to 10 centimeters in length. Panicles growing from the trunk and larger branches are hairy, 15 centimeters long or less. Flowers are about 1.5 centimeters long, and slightly fragrant. Fruit is green and edible, about 4 centimeters long, subcylindric, or with 5 obscure, broad, rounded, longitudinal lobes.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Effects of Averrhoa bilimbi leaf extract on blood glucose and lipids in streptozotocin-diabetic rats / P. Pushparaj, C. H. Tan and B. K. H. Tan / Journal of Ethnopharmacology / doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(00)00200-2

(2) Herbal and Traditional Medicine / Averrhoa bilimbi / Lester Packer

(3) Anti–diabetic activity of the semi–purified fractions of Averrhoa bilimbi in high fat diet fed–streptozotocin–induced diabetic rats / Benny Kwong Huat Tan et al / Life Sciences / Volume 76, Issue 24, 29 April 2005, Pages 2827-2839 / doi:10.1016/j.lfs.2004.10.051


(5) Sorting Averrhoa names / Authorised by Prof. Snow Barlow / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 – 2000 The University of Melbourne.

(6) Preliminary cytotoxic activity of different extracts of Averrhoa bilimbi (fruits )/ Md. Ramjan Ali, Marjan Hossain, Jannatul Ferdous Runa, *Md. Hasanuzzaman / International Current Pharmaceutical Journal, February 2013, 2(3): 83-84

(7) A REVIEW ON PHYTOCHEMICAL CONSTITUENTS AND BIOLOGICAL ASSAYS OF AVERRHOA BILIMBI / K. Ashok Kumar, SK. Gousia, Anupama, M. And J. Naveena Lavanya Latha. / International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science Research 2013; 3(4): 136-139

(8) Fruits of Bilimbi (Averrhoa bilimbi L.) as a New Natural Source of Ethylene for Ripening of ‘Saba’ Banana (Musa balbisiana BBB) / Gloria D. Masilungan* and Wella L. Absulio / PHILIPP AGRIC SCIENTIST, Vol. 95 No. 4, 406–410 December 2012

(9) Effectiveness of Kamias as an Alternative Stain Remover / Grade 8 Investigatory Project / Patricia Mae Martinez

(10) Acute oxalate nephropathy due to ‘Averrhoa bilimbi’ fruit juice ingestion / Bakul, G.; Unni, V. N.; Seethaleksmy, N. V.; Mathew, A.; Rajesh, R.; Kurien, G.; Rajesh, J.; Jayaraj, P. M.; Kishore, D. S.; Jose, P. P. / Indian Journal of Nephrology, 2013, Vol 23, Issue 4, pp 297-300.

(11) OXALIC ACID CONTENT OF CARAMBOLA AND BILIMBI / J. Joseph and G. Mendonca / Jan 1991 / The Archives of The Rare Fruit Council of Australia

(12) Evaluation of total phenolic content, free radical scavenging activity and phytochemical screening of different extracts of Averrhoa bilimbi (fruits) / *Md. Hasanuzzaman, Md. Ramjan Ali, Marjan Hossain, Sourov Kuri, Mohammad Safiqul Islam /

– Cultivated and semi-cultivated throughout the Philippines.
– Introduced from tropical America.
– Now pantropic.

Parts utilized 
Leaves, fruit, juice.

• Study on volatile components of fruits showed 6 mg/kg of total volatile compounds; 62 compounds were identified, nonanal and (Z)-3-hexenol were dominant.
• Fruit contains potassium oxalate.
• Chemical constituents include amino acids, citric acid, cyanidin-3-O-b-D-glucoside, phenolics, potassium ion, sugars, and vitamin A. Fruit extracts yield flavonoids, saponins, and triterpenoid. Bark yields alkaloids, saponins, and flavonoids.
• 100 gms of edible portion yields: Thiamine, 0.010 mg; ascorbic acid, 15.6 mg; moisture, 94.2-94.7 g; protein, 0.61 g; fiber, 0.6 g; ash, 0.31-0,4 g; calcium, 3.4 g; phosphorus, 11.1mg; iron, 1.01mg, carotene, 0.035mg; riboflavin, 0.030 mg, niacin, 0.030mg.
• The oxalic acid in bilimbi ranged between 10.5 and 14.7 mg/g in green fruit and 8.45 to 10.8 mg/g in ripe fruit, levels comparable to those reported from tea leaves.


• Considered antibacterial, astringent, antiscorbutic, febrifuge, antidiabetic, stomachic, refrigerant.
• Fruit considered astringent, refrigerant, and stomachic.
• Studies haves shown antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, cytotoxic, antioxidant, antifertility, and antibacterial activities.

– Eaten raw.
– Prepared as a relish and food flavoring.
– Made into sweets and jams; used in making pickles.

• Skin diseases, especially with pruritus: Reduce the leaves to a paste and apply tolerably warm to areas of affected skin.
• Fruit juice used as eye drops.
• Post-partum and rectal inflammation: Infusion of leaves.
• Mumps, acne, and localized rheumatic complaints: Paste of leaves applied to affected areas.
Kamias5• Warm paste of leaves also used for pruritus.
• Used for boils, piles, rheumatism, cough, hypertension, whooping cough, mumps and pimples.
• Cough and thrush: Infusion of flowers, 40 grams to a pint of boiling water, 4 glasses of tea daily.
• For fevers, fruit made into syrup used as a cooling drink.
• The fruit has been used for a variety of maladies: beriberi, cough, prevention of scurvy.
• Infusion of leaves also drank as a protective tonic after childbirth.
• In Malaysia, leaves are used for venereal diseases.
• In Java, a conserve of fruit used for beriberi, biliousness, coughs.
• In Indonesia, leaves used for boils, diabetes, mumps, fever.
• In French Guyana, fruit decoction or syrup use for hepatitis, diarrhea, fever and other inflammatory conditions.

• Stain remover: Because of high oxalic acid content, fruit used to remove stains from clothing and for washing hands, removing rust and stains from metal blades.


Study Findings
• Hypoglycemic / Hypotriglyceridemic / Anti-Atherogenic / Anti-Lipid Peroxidative: Effects of Averrhoa bilimbi leaf extract on blood glucose and lipids in streptozotocin-diabetic rats: Study showed that AB extract has hypoglycemic, hypotriglyceridemic, anti-lipid peroxidative and anti-atherogenic properties in STZ-diabetic rats.
• Antioxidant / Antimicrobial Activities: The scavenging of NO by the extract of AC fruits was dependent on concentration and stage of ripening. Extracts showed antimicrobial activity against E coli, Salmonella typhi, staph aureus and bacillus cereus.
• Phytochemicals / Antimicrobial: Phytochemical screening of fruit extracts yielded flavonoids, saponins and triterpenoids but no alkaloids. The chloroform and methanol fruit extracts were active against Aeromonas hydrophilia, E coli, K pneumonia, S cerrevisiae, S aureus, Strep agalactiae and B subtilis. In conclusion, AB fruits possess potential antibacterial activities that warrants further studies.
• Anti-Diabetic: Study showed the aqueous fraction was more potent than the butanol fraction in the amelioration of hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia in a high fat diet-fed STZ diabetic rats and suggests the AF as the potential source for isolation of the active principle for oral antidiabetic therapy.
• Antibacterial: Study of the aqueous extract of AB leaves and fruits showed antibacterial activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. The antibacterial activity could be associated with the presence of bioactive compounds of the flavonoids type, like luteolin and apigenin. The results suggest further studies to isolate and identify the responsible compounds.
• Anti-Hyperlipidemic: Study showed the fruit and its water extract, but not the alcohol and hexane extracts, to have remarkable antihypercholesterolemic activity. Results suggest the fruit can be used as a dietary ingredient to treat hyperlipidemia.
• Hepatoprotective / Antioxidant: Study of a methanolic extract of leaves in carbon tetrachloride intoxicated rats showed significant inhibition of biochemical alterations, comparable to the standard drug.
• Antifertility: Study in mice showed the kamias fruit as a potential source of antifertility drug. A butanol fraction of the ethanol extract exhibited a higher reduction in fertility rate. The activity may be due to either or both of the steroidal glucosides and potassium oxalate constituents.
• Antidiabetic Properties: Study evaluated the antidiabetic activity of ABe in STZ-induced diabetic Sprague-Dawley rats. ABe increased glucose tolerance in OGTT testing and showed potent hypoglycemic, hypotriglyceridemic, and anti-lipid peroxidative and anti-atherogenic activities.
• Cytotoxic Activity / Fruits: Study evaluated a crude methanolic extract of fruit and its various fractions for in vitro cytotoxic potential using the brine shrimp lethality bioassay. Results showed a significant cytotoxic potential and a potential source for the isolation of active principle/s for cancer therapy.
• Anticoagulant Activity: Study evaluated an ethanolic extract for anticoagulant activity in diabetic male wistar rats. The high level of oxalic acid in A. bilimbi could provide the anticoagulant effect since oxalic acid is a metal cation chelator. Oxalate presumbly binds to blood calcium, removing calcium ions from the blood, and inhibiting the clotting process.
• Natural Source of Ethylene for Ripening Bananas: Study showed bilimbi fruits produced relatively high amounts of ethylene which effectively induced the ripening of mature green ‘Saba’ bananas. Results suggest a natural source of ethylene for Saba ripening.
• Acute Oxalate Nephropathy Attributed to A. bilimbi Fruit Juice: Study reports a series of 10 cases from five Keral hospitals who developed acute oxalate nephropathy and acute renal failure after intake of Irumban puli fruit juice. Seven of the patients required hemodialysis.
• Oxalic Acid Content: Study determined the range of oxalic acid and total free acid in carambola and bilimbi. Oxalic acid is a food toxicant which may decrease the availability of dietary calcium by forming poorly absorbed calcium oxalate complex. The oxalic acid in bilimbi ranged between 10.5 and 14.7 mg/g in green fruit and 8.45 to 10.8 mg/g in ripe fruit, levels comparable to those reported from tea leaves. The oxalic acid levels in bilimbi were higher than csrambola.
• Radical Scavenging / Phenolic Content: Study investigated a methanolic extract and various solvent soluble fractions for free radical scavenging activity and phenolic content. Extractives yielded significsnt phenolic compounds. Crude methanolic extract exhibited significant DPPH free radical scavenging activity.

Seasonal fruiting.