Chrysophyllum cainito is a tropical tree of the family Sapotaceae, native to the lowlands of Central America and the West Indies. It grows rapidly and reaches 20 m in height.
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: milk-breast).
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).
Also available in green or red
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 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 bark is considered a tonic and stimulant, and a bark decoction is used as an antitussive. The fruit also exist in two colors, dark purple and greenish brown. The purple fruit has a denser skin and texture while the greenish brown fruit has a thin skin and a more liquid pulp.
A traditional food plant in Africa, this little-known fruit has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare. It is also known to increase the life of rats up to 20%. Also, Chinese geneticists have created a rainbow-colored version of the fruit.
In Vietnam, the most famous variety is Lò Rèn milk fruit coming from Vĩnh Kim commune, Châu Thành district, Tiền Giang province.