Bilimbi (Tree Sorrel)

Bilimbi (Tree Sorrel): A Unique Fruit with Tart Flavors and Health Benefits


Bilimbi, also known as Tree Sorrel, is a tropical fruit that is cherished for its unique tart flavor and culinary uses. With its distinctive shape and sour taste, Bilimbi adds a tangy twist to various dishes and beverages. In this article, we will explore the origin of Bilimbi, the characteristics of the tree, describe the fruit and its benefits, discuss its distribution in India, and appreciate the versatility and value of Bilimbi.

Common NameBilimbi (Tree Sorrel)
Scientific NameAverrhoa bilimbi
NativityMalay Archipelago
Climatic conditionsTropical
States in India foundKerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu,
Maharashtra (coastal regions)


Bilimbi is believed to have originated in the Malay Archipelago, which includes parts of Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. From there, it spread to various tropical regions around the world. In India, Bilimbi has been cultivated and used for centuries, particularly in the coastal areas of South India.

Characteristics of the Tree

The Bilimbi tree, scientifically known as Averrhoa bilimbi, is a slender, fast-growing tree that can reach a height of 5-15 meters. It has a bushy crown with compound leaves that are dark green and glossy. The tree produces small, inconspicuous flowers that develop into long, cylindrical fruits. The branches of the Bilimbi tree are usually horizontal, and the tree is known for its resilience in adapting to diverse climates.

Description of Fruit and Benefits

The Bilimbi fruit is elongated and cylindrical, measuring approximately 4-10 centimeters in length. It has a thin, smooth, and waxy skin that is usually green, turning yellow when fully ripe. The flesh of the fruit is crisp and extremely sour, with a flavor profile similar to that of green apples or unripe mangoes. While it is rarely consumed raw due to its tartness, Bilimbi is a popular ingredient in chutneys, pickles, and curries. It is rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber, and is known for its potential health benefits such as aiding digestion, reducing cholesterol levels, and boosting the immune system.

Distribution in India

Bilimbi is distributed in various states across India, primarily in the coastal regions and areas with a tropical climate. It is commonly found in states such as Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and parts of Maharashtra. The warm and humid conditions of these regions provide an ideal environment for the growth of Bilimbi trees.


Bilimbi, with its tangy flavor, distinct shape, and health benefits, is a remarkable fruit that brings a unique twist to culinary creations. Its origin in the Malay Archipelago and its distribution in different parts of India highlight its cultural and culinary significance. Whether used in pickles, sauces, or as a souring agent in dishes, Bilimbi continues to captivate taste buds and add a refreshing tang to various cuisines. As more people discover its versatility and potential health benefits, Bilimbi’s popularity is expected to grow, further cementing its place as a cherished ingredient in the culinary landscape of India and beyond.

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