Chrysophyllum cainito
Common Name: star apple 
Type: Fruit
Family: Sapotaceae
Native Range: West Indies
Zone: 10 to 12
Height: 30.00 to 80.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 80.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Creamy white,
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual, Shade Tree
Flower: Fragrant, Insignificant
Fruit: Edible
Tolerate: Drought, Clay Soil


Easily grown in evenly moist, deep, rich, slightly acidic, well-draining loams in full sun. Tolerant of a wide variety of soil types including sandy and clayey soils as long as excellent drainage is provided. Prefers tropical climates with a dry season, and will tolerate drought once established. Leaf drop and poor fruiting can result from severe dry periods. Provide extra irrigation if these symptoms occur. Low tolerance for cold. Air temperatures of 40°F and below can cause defoliation. Air temperatures of 28°F and below can cause severe dieback and even prove fatal to young trees. Hardy in frost-free Zones 11 and above.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Chrysophyllum cainito, commonly known as star apple, is an evergreen tree native to the Caribbean and Central America. It is common in cultivation and has become naturalized in parts of South America, Southeast Asia, and tropical Africa. Mature specimens will reach between 50-80' tall with dense, spreading canopy of similar width. The foliage is elliptic in shape and 5" long, with a glossy, green upper surface and a layer of fine, yellow-brown hairs on the lower surface. The small, cream-colored flowers are held in axilary clusters along the lengths of the stems and bloom seasonally. They are followed by round fruits, 2-4" in diameter, with sweet, edible flesh. Trees can either bear fruits with light green skin and white flesh, or dark purple skin and purple flesh. There is no difference in taste between green or purple skinned varieties. The fruits can be enjoyed raw or in preserves, but the skin must be removed. The leaves, bark, fruit, and seeds have various traditional medicinal uses.

Genus name comes from the Greek chrysos meaning "gold" and phyllon meaning "leaf", in reference to the appearance of the undersides of the leaves of some species.

The specific epithet cainito comes from the local West Indian name for this plant.

The common name refers to the star-shaped interior structure of the fruits.


Susceptible to red rust caused by the algae Cephaleuros virescens. Severe infestation can lead to twig and stem dieback. Fungal diseases can also affect the leaves and fruit. Alkaline soil conditions can cause chlorosis.


Grown commercially around the world for the edible fruits, but suitable for use in home gardens as a specimen or shade tree. Trees typically start to bear fruit in their third to fifth years.