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Family: Oxalidaceae
Genus: Averrhoa
Botanical name: Averrhoa bilimbi Linn.
PLANT NAME IN DIFFERENT LANGUAGES
Sanskrit: Karmsaraka, Siralam, Krama, Amlee, Karukha
English: Bilimbi, Cucumber tree
Hindi: Belumbu
Malayalam: Chilimbi, limbi, ilumbanpuli
MEDICINAL PROPERTIES
The bilimbi tree reaches 5–10 m in height. Its trunk is short and quickly divides up into ramifications. Bilimbi leaves, 3–6 cm long, are alternate,imparipinnate and cluster at branch extremities. There are around 11 to 37 alternate or sub opposite oblong leaflets. The leaves are quite similar to those of the Otaheite gooseberry.
Possibly originated in Moluccas, Indonesia, the species are now cultivated and found throughout the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh,Myanmar (Burma) and Malaysia. It is also common in other Southeast Asian countries. In India, where it is usually found in gardens, the bilimbi has gone wild in the warmest regions of the country.
Outside of Asia, the tree is cultivated in Zanzibar. In 1793, the bilimbi was introduced to Jamaica from Timor and after several years, was cultivated throughout Central and South America where it is known as mimbro. Introduced to Queensland at the end of the 19th century, it has been grown commercially in the region since that time.
This is essentially a tropical tree, less resistant to cold than the carambola, growing best in rich and well-drained soil (but also stands limestone and sand). It prefers evenly distributed rainfall throughout the year, but with a 2- to 3-month dry season. Therefore the species is not found, for example, in the wettest part of Malaysia. In Florida, where it is an occasional curiosity, the tree needs protection from wind and cold.
In the Philippines, the leaves serve as a paste on itches, swelling, rheumatism, mumps or skin eruptions. Elsewhere, they are used for bites of poisonous creatures. A leaf infusion is used as an after-birth tonic, while the flower infusion is used for thrush, cold, and cough. Malaysians use fermented or fresh bilimbi leaves to treat venereal diseases. In French Guiana, syrup made from the fruit is used to treat inflammatory conditions. To date there is no scientific evidence to confirm effectiveness for such uses.
In some villages in the Thiruvananthapuram district of India, the fruit of the bilimbi was used in folk medicine to control obesity. This led to further studies on its antihyperlipidemic properties The roots of Chilimbi tree is used to heal the swelling that occurs in the whole body due to the bite of Russells Viper.
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