The story of carambola in Florida is intertwined with that of Miami-Dade’s distinguished Campbell family, beginning with the late Dr. Carl W. Campbell, a pioneering horticulturist. It was he, according to the University of Florida’s Dr. Jonathan Crane, who in 1965 “formally described, named and released Golden Star carambola,” the state’s first important commercial variety.
Campbell selected it from a group of trees grown from seed that had been introduced from Hawaii in 1935 at what is now the Subtropical Horticultural Research Station of the USDA Agricultural Research Service at Chapman Field. In his own backyard, Campbell planted the second grafted Golden Star in existence.
His son Richard, senior curator at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and a plant pioneer in his own right, has fond memories of that tree. As a teenager in the late 1970s, he would pick and pack its fruit and carry the cartons by bicycle to Brooks Tropicals trucks, which then carried them to markets in New York.
— MARICEL E. PRESILLA