It has numerous common names including cainito, caimito, star apple, golden leaf tree, abiaba, pomme du lait, estrella, milk fruit and aguay. It is also known by the synonym Achras cainito. In Vietnam, it is called vú sữa (literally: breast-milk).
The leaves are evergreen, alternate, simple oval, entire, 5–15 cm long; the underside shines with a golden color when seen from a distance. The tiny flowers are purplish white and have a sweet fragrant smell. The tree is also hermaphroditic (self-fertile).
It has round, purple-skinned fruit that is often green around the calyx, with a star pattern in the pulp. Sometimes there is a greenish-white or yellow variety of the fruit. The skin is rich in latex, and both it and the rind are not edible. The flattened seeds are light brown and hard. It bears fruit year around after it reaches about seven years of age.
The fruits are delicious as a fresh dessert fruit; it is sweet and best served chilled. Infusions of the leaves have been used against diabetes and articular rheumatism. The fruit has anti-oxidant properties., The bark is considered a tonic and stimulant, and a bark decoction is used as an antitussive. The fruit also exist in three colors, dark purple, greenish brown and yellow. The purple fruit has a denser skin and texture while the greenish brown fruit has a thin skin and a more liquid pulp; the yellow variety is less common and difficult to find.
A number of closely related species, also called star apples, are grown in Africa, including C. albidum and C. africanum.
In Sierra Leone the fruit is referred to as "Bobi wata" or breast milk fruit.
- Luo X.D., Basile M.J., Kennelly E.J.,"Polyphenolic antioxidants from the fruits of Chrysophyllum cainito L. (Star Apple)." Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2002 50:6 (1379-1382)
- Einbond L.S., Reynertson K.A., Luo X.-D., Basile M.J., Kennelly E.J.,"Anthocyanin antioxidants from edible fruits" Food Chemistry 2004 84:1 (23-28)
- National Research Council (2008-01-25). "Star Apples". Lost Crops of Africa: Volume III: Fruits. Lost Crops of Africa. 3. National Academies Press. ISBN 978-0-309-10596-5. http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11879&page=317. Retrieved 2008-07-17.