What is Chrysophyllum?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 30 December 2018
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Chrysophyllum is a genus of tropical trees known for producing globe-shaped purple fruit that reveals a distinctive star pattern when cut open, explaining the common name “Star Apple” for some members of this genus. These trees are extremely sensitive to frost, and while they can endure brief periods of cool temperatures, they will not grow well outside of tropical and very warm subtropical regions, unless people cultivate them indoors. Nurseries carry Chrysophyllum seedlings in regions where the trees can be safely grown.

Some Chrysophyllum species can grow up to 66 feet (20 meters) in height, while others mature to about half that height. These trees, like many tropical plants, grow extremely rapidly. When initially planted, a seedling can look like a branch jammed in the ground, but it will quickly leaf out to produce a large canopy, and will start acquiring height within the first year. Rapid growth makes Chrysophyllum species very popular for landscaping, especially in settings where people want to establish mature landscaping as quickly as possible.


The leaves of Chrysophyllum species are glossy green and satiny above, and a dull golden color below. The flowers are very small and white, growing in clusters around the ends of the branches. When fertilized, they mature into fruits and many species produce edible fruit. Star apples can be eaten plain, used in fruit salad, added to jellies, and used in a variety of other fruit recipes. Some people find the pith and rind too bitter for their tastes and take care to avoid them when preparing the fruit for consumption.

People interested in growing a Chrysophyllum should prepare a spot of fertile, well-drained soil for a seedling to help it get a good start. These trees like full sun to part shade and will branch out significantly. They should be planted with plenty of clearance to grow up, and it is advisable to avoid positioning them too close to homes and other structures. Low shrubs that enjoy shade make good companion plants for a Chrysophyllum tree.

Once established, a Chrysophyllum tree should require little maintenance. Pruning can be done for shaping purposes, although it is not necessary, and the tree can be provided with fertilizer in the spring to encourage steady growth. In the first year, regular watering is recommended, but once the tree has rooted firmly, it will not need to be watered as heavily, as the roots will be able to seek out water supplies.



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