The leaves, flowers and developing fruit are shown here. The mature fruit are translucent, deeply ridged, pale orange when ripe and often served sliced across to form a star. The taste is sour or sweet depending on the ripeness and the variety.
Starfruit are rich in vitamin C, antioxidants and potassium, as well as having anti-bacterial properties. However, the fruits also contain oxalic acid which can cause or worsen kidney stones, as well as caramboxin, a neurotoxin which can affect the brain. Fresh starfruit should be avoided by those taking statins.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the East India Company controlled much of the Indian subcontinent. Keen to exploit and export valuable natural commodities, the Company set out to record the flora of India and commissioned Indian artists to create detailed botanical illustrations. Many of the plants were known through their use in Ayurvedic medicine. One of the world’s oldest medicinal systems, it has been practised in India for 3,000 years.
Company School style paintings became popular with wealthy Europeans. It was not uncommon for East India Company officials (who were not employed as medics or botanists) to build their own personal collections of paintings depicting Indian flora and fauna. We cannot be sure how local amateur botanist Richard Cresswell came by this collection of 86 Company School works. It is possible Henry Creighton commissioned them during his time as a judge in Calcutta and that on his death the works came back to the UK with his daughter Frances who later married Richard Cresswell.