Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Many Faces of Kamias

Kamias is Averhoa bilimbi. This tree is a common plant in household gardens in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. Many traditional recipes of these countries include the fruits as a souring agent. Occasionally, the young fruits are eaten raw, while the mature fruits are sometimes processed as sweets. It is however traditionally dried in the Tagalog provinces to be included in fish dishes also as souring agent when it is not in the fruiting season. 


A lot of medicinal uses are shown by this plant. However, the fruits have high concentration of oxallic acid that eating them raw might react unfavorably with the teeth's calcium content. Caution must be exercised in eating the raw fruits.

 We have a few trees near our house and much fruits are just left to rot during the fruiting season. I didn't realize that its leaves have dramatic arrangements depending on the light conditions. The leaf angles with the midribs also vary depending on the time of the day and maybe the intensity of the sun. At noon, the leaflets droop (photo above) to limit the laminar exposure and decrease water loss.

 Leaves are mostly concentrated at the growing points and arranged in a spiral distributing the leaves for most sunlight exposure. Views under the leaves are lovely too.





 Again, the leaves droop at intense heat of the sun.


It is also a cauliflorous plant, with flowers arising from the trunk and branches. 

Bunches of fruits arise from all parts of the trunk

The whole plant fully laden with fruits


20 comments:

  1. The fruit-laden tree is beautiful in a way. I love how the leaves are arranged!

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  2. The first 3 photos, highlighting the leaves in 3 different ways/lights, are stunning. What a fascinating plant! And I love the texture of the trunks, laden with fruit. We have no similar plants here in the North American prairie, which make it especially fun to learn about this one.

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  3. Hi Andrea! I didn't know that kamias could be bad for the teeth. I used to suck on them when I was little. In Bicol people cook kamias in cocconut milk with pork bits and a lot of chili. Karmi

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    1. Hi Karmi, i am really glad to be talking to you again, lots have happened to you while i am still with the same set of things! When it is cooked the oxallic acid content if not totally lost decreased much. We also use kamias a lot but as a souring agent for fish. The dried fruits lost the oxallic acid already.

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  4. It's a really neat tree indeed. I'm glad you showed the the fruit and the droopy leaves. It seems the sun can wilt anything now a days. I do like the leaf pattern very much.

    Cool name for your blog. I was going to ask you if you knew Andrea when I read 'about me (you)' and saw you were Andrea. lol

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    1. Hahaha, yes Tina, I am glad you found this new one. Oxygen Generators is a very apt name, isn't it! thanks for visiting. Skeeter was here too.

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  5. I just love interesting foliage and this tree has such a uniform almost geometric way about its foliage...interesting facts about the fruit and foliage..

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    1. Hi Donna, sometimes we take for granted those around us that we always see. I just observed the leaf patterns against the light just recently. I guess i should give it some place in my blog, for neglecting it in favor of the not so common ones.

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  6. Greetings human:) This is similiar to the Tree Of Heaven here. The leaves will droop during the hot part of the day and then perk up at night. Love how this tree's foliage is like a piece of art. This would be a great plant for shadowplay. Another unusual feature is the fruit growing on the tree.....similiar to Jabuticamba or the Cacao plant. Nice! I'm curious to the flavor. When I come to visit down the road, it'll be on list of the things to try:) Have a great week! Stay cool!

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    1. hi my dear Kreesh, i will try to experiment on the fruit shake, maybe i already perfected it in time for your visit, hahaha! Someone in FB had tasted the fruit shake mix in maybe Singapore? She said it is nice. I didn't stay cool, because i am now sick!

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    2. Ugh....so sorry about you being sick. That's a real bummer. I seriously love the fruit shakes you have over in your area. They are delish and this is one I have not tried:) Feel better my friend:)

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  7. They are so lovely and also an interesting post about the plant. i love the composition of the third photo. it forms beautiful lines and patterns.

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    1. Thank you, that 3rd photo is also a favorite.

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  8. I like the last photo of the mature tree. I imagine 2 sexy ladies dancing and swaying by the beach, Hawaiian style! I think we call this "Belimbing" and use the fruits to put a sour flavour to steam fish dishes and also to impart a slightly sour taste to our salted vegetables soup.

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    1. Yes this is exactly used like in your case. So you called it 'belimbing' from Averrhoa belimbi. We call it here kamias(kamyas) or kalamias. We also have a "balimbing" here, but it is starfruit, Averrhoa carambola, eaten as fruit when ripe.

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  9. I too like the last image. It shows a tree I would never have seen growing in its natural environment. The fruit is very prolific and grows so much different than our fruiting trees.

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  10. I loved those images. We call it bimbli and is eaten in fish curry, in Goa/Mangalore.

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    1. It is really nice to be looking at the etymology of terms! Yours sound like that of Malaysia, and when it reached us (if ever it came from you), it was used for another fruit. I wonder if someone wants to study the evolution of the term, haha.

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  11. A very unique-looking tree compared to what we have here! The views through the leaves are very lovely.

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  12. Lovely photos of this pretty tree.

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