Little tangy berry!!
Phyllanthus acidus, known as the Otaheite gooseberry, Star gooseberry, Tahitian gooseberry, country, or simply gooseberry tree, is one of the trees with edible small yellow berries fruit in the Phyllanthaceae family. Despite its name, the plant does not resemble the gooseberry, except for the acidity of its fruits. It is mostly cultivated for ornamentation.
The plant is an intermediary between shrubs and trees, reaching 2 to 9 m (6½ to 30 ft) high. The tree\’s dense and bushy crown is composed of thickish, tough main branches, at the end of which are clusters of deciduous, greenish, 15-to-30-cm long branchlets. The branchlets bear alternate leaves that are ovate or lanceolate in form, with short petioles and pointed ends. The leaves are 2-7.5 cm long and thin, they are green and smooth on the upper side and blue-green on the underside. In general, the Otaheite gooseberry tree very much looks like the bilimbi tree.
Various parts of the plant are used for food. In India, the cooked leaves are eaten. While the fruit is eaten fresh and is sometimes used as a flavoring for other dishes, it is generally regarded as too tart to eat by itself in its natural form and is processed further. It is candied in sugar or pickled in salt, used in chutney, relish, or preserves.
The dose of manures and fertilizers depends upon soil fertility, age of the plant, and production. A dose of 10 kg farmyard manure, 100 g N, 50 g P, and 100 g K should be given to one-year-old plants of amla. This dose should be increased yearly up to 10 years and thereafter a constant dose should be given. A full dose of farmyard manure and P and half of N and K should be given in tree basin during February. The remaining half should be applied in August.
WATERING AND WEED CONTROL
Young star gooseberry should be watered regularly until fully established. In dry western climates, water mature trees deeply at least every one or two weeks. Desert gardeners may have to water more frequently. Mulch the soil around the trees to conserve moisture. Weeding is also very important. Remove all weeds 1.5 meters around the plant.
PRUNING AND SHAPE OF TREE
The plants are trained to modify the central leader system. Two to four branches with a wide crotch angle, appearing in the opposite directions should be encouraged in the early years. The unwanted branches are pinched off during March-April. In subsequent years, 4-6 branches should be allowed to develop. Regular pruning of a bearing aonla tree is not required. As per growth habit, shedding off all determinate shoots encourages new growth incoming season. However, dead, infected, broken, weak, or overlapping branches should be removed regularly.
HARVESTING YOUR STAR GOOSEBERRY
A budded/grafted tree starts bearing third year onwards after planting, whereas a seedling tree may take 6-8 years. Vegetatively propagated plants attain full bearing within 10-12 years and may continue to bear for 60-75 years of age under well-managed conditions.