The Jamaican Star Apple

The star apple tree Chrysophyllum cainito is a native of the Caribbean and Central America. It is a member of the Sapotaceae family which includes over 150 species of tree found in tropical and sub-tropical regions.
In Jamaica, it is fairly common and well known for the luscious fruit and its use as a shade tree. A mature tree attains a height of over 15 metres with a trunk of nearly a metre in diameter.
red star apple

A cross section of the fruit showing the characteristic star-shaped seed pattern.
star apples on stick
Ready for sale at the market.
leaves showing 2 colours leaves showing 2 colours

The leaf is golden underneath and green on the top. (The photograph on the right shows a sample a bit too dried out!).

During the training session (22-24th April, 1996) on the use of the PE Lambda 19, the reflectance attachment was tested. A spectrum showing the reflectance of a piece of star apple skin is available in JCAMP-DX format. An acetone extract produced the following Vis spectrum.
In the USA, the fruit has not achieved widespread acceptance although recognised as being very tasty. In Florida it is reported that about 6 acres are commercially grown and harvested.

A recent study of the antioxidant properties of star apples identified a number of poly-phenols[2] and anthocyanins[3], including:
(-)-epicatechin (up to 7.3mg/kg of fresh weight),
quercetin (highest antioxidant activity),
gallic acid
and cyanidin-3-glucopyranoside

A 2002 Cuban study[4] of the volatile constituents in a sample of starapple used GC/GCMS and identified over 100 components. Terpenoids comprised the largest class of volatiles (36.4%); the composition of the other classes of compounds was as follows: aldehydes and ketones, 20.1%; acids, 9.7%; esters, 7.8%; alcohols, 7.1%; N-compounds, 1.3%; and others, 17.5%.
The major constituents found in star apple volatiles were (E)-2-hexenal (0.25 mg/kg), 1-hexanol (0.09 mg/ kg), limonene (0.17 mg/kg), linalool (0.09 mg/kg), α-copaene (0.13 mg/kg) and hexadecanoic acid (0.11 mg/kg).


1). "The Star Apple- A Symbol of Meanness in Jamaica", by John Rashford, Jamaica Journal, 24/1, June 1991, p49.
2). L.S. Einbonda, K.A. Reynertsona, Xiao-Dong Luo, M.J. Basile, E.J. Kennelly, Food Chemistry, 84, (2004), 23-28.
3). Xiao-Dong Luo, M.J. Basile, E.J. Kennelly, J. Agric. Food Chem. 2002, 50, 1379-1382.
4). J. Pino, R. Marbot and A. Rosado, Flavour Fragr. J., 2002, 17, 401-403.

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Created and maintained by Prof. Robert J. Lancashire,
The Department of Chemistry, University of the West Indies,
Mona Campus, Kingston 7, Jamaica.
Created 2nd April 1996. Links checked and/or last modified 25th November 2013.