Chrysophyllum cainito, or star apple, is known by several names, including cainito, golden leaf tree, pomme du lait, and milk fruit. This tropical evergreen tree is believed to be native to Central America and the West Indies. It is a large tree, and it grows quite quickly. The fruit produced by this tree can be either dark purple or light green, and when cut in half horizontally, the inside resembles a star pattern.
Star apple trees seem to be able to grow in a variety of soil types, but proper drainage is important. They also seem to grow the best in warmer tropical climates. It is grown in parts of the southern United States, the Philippines, the Caribbean Islands, and many parts of Central America.
The star apple tree can grow to be quite large, and some can grow to about 70 feet (21 meters) or more. The trees can start to bear fruit in as little as two to five years. Leaves of the star apple tree are firm, and they measure about two inches (five centimeters) wide and five to seven inches (roughly 12.7 to 17.8 centimeters) long. The top of the leaves are green and glossy, while the bottoms of the leaves are a golden color and covered with silky, fine hairs. The small purple flowers are sweet and fragrant.
The fruit of the star apple tree is often oblong or pear shaped and about the same size as an apple, and the skin is usually smooth and quite leathery. Although the skin and rind of this fruit are not edible, the pulp is soft and considered to be very tasty by many. There are two species of this tree, and each species produces a different color of fruit — dark purple or light green.
Purple star apples have a thick skin attached to a rind. The rind of this fruit is usually a dark purple color, and the pulp ranges from a light purplish color to white. Green star apple have a thinner skin and rind. The rind and pulp of this fruit are both a milky white color.
Star apple can be eaten right off of the tree, or it can be used in place of a variety of different fruits. Before eating a star apple or using one in a recipe, it must first be peeled. All of the outside skin and rind must be taken off and discarded.