Phyllanthus acidus is a small tree and grows up to 2-9 m tall. It has simple, alternately arranged, stalked leaves are ovate in shape, about 2-7 cm long, and are arranged in two ranks along the branches. The blooms can be male, female or hermaphrodite. They are small and pinkish and appear in clusters in 5-to-12.5-cm long panicles. Blooms are formed at leafless parts of the main branches, at the upper part of the tree. The fruits are numerous, oblate, with 6 to 8 ribs, develop so densely that they actually form spectacular masses. They are pale yellow or white, waxy, crisp and juicy, and very sour. It has just a single seed in each fruit.
Scientific Name: Phyllanthus acidus
Synonyms: Phyllanthus distichus, Cicca acida, Cicca disticha, Averrhoa acida.
Common Names: Otaheite gooseberry, Malay gooseberry, Tahitian gooseberry, Country gooseberry, Star gooseberry, Starberry, West India gooseberry, or simply Gooseberry tree.
How to grow and maintain Phyllanthus acidus (Star gooseberry):
It thrives best in full sunlight to partial shade.
It grows well in well-drained, fertile soils. A pH level can be between slightly acidic to slightly alkaline.
Water your plant regularly during the growing season. You can allow the top 1 inch of soil to dry out between each watering.
It prefers an ideal temperature of 65 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit / 18 – 21 degrees Celsius year-round.
Feed with any organic fertilizer every month during the growing season.
It can be easily propagated by seed, which may bear in 4 years, or by budding, greenwood cuttings, and air-layering.
Pests and Diseases:
There is no serious pest or disease problems. Watch for aphids, spider mites, and mealybug.
Benefits of Phyllanthus acidus :
- The fruits are eaten raw with sugar or cooked. The young leaves are consumed as a vegetable.
- Otaheite gooseberry fruits are used as astringent, root and seed are useful as cathartic, leaf and root used as an antidote to viper venom. The leaf of the plant found effective in hypertension.
- A decoction of leaves is used externally for urticaria, the fruit given at the same time to eat.