Indian gooseberry

Updated: Sep 14

Phyllanthus emblica, also known as emblic, emblic myrobalan, myrobalan, Indian gooseberry, Malacca tree, or amla, from the Sanskrit amalaki, is a deciduous tree of the family Phyllanthaceae, that grows in India, the Middle East, and a few other Southeast Asian countries.



The taste of Indian gooseberry is sour, bitter and astringent, and it is quite fibrous. In India, it is common to eat gooseberries steeped in salt water and turmeric to make the sour fruits palatable


Table of Contents


Height(Avg)

8 - 18m


Approximate pH

6.5 - 9.5


Varieties of Indian Gooseberries

  • Banarasi

  • Chakaiya

  • Francis

  • NA-4 (Krishna)

  • NA-5 (Kanchan)

  • NA-6

  • NA-7 (Promising variety)

  • NA-10

  • BSR-1 (Bhavanisagar).


Growing Amla Tree


Position


Plant Amla tree in a location that is less windy and sunny. The well-draining and sloppy position is good for its growth.


Soil


Well-drained, loamy to light heavy soil that is deep and rich in organic matter is required for growing amla tree. A pH level can be between slightly acidic to slightly alkaline. The waterlogged and clay-rich soil is detrimental and must be avoided, same is the case with too sandy soils.


Watering


Regular and abundant watering is essential at the young age. Once the tree gets established, it doesn’t require regular and frequent watering. However, you can water the plant during the period of active growth or in a drought like conditions in summer. Watering 2-3 times in a month in summer is sufficient for a mature tree. In any case, water stagnation must be avoided.


Temperature


Amla tree is tough and resistant to exploits of climate. It bears mild snowfall during winter months in the forest of Western Himalayas and tolerates extreme heat and dry atmosphere in tropical India. It is sensitive to prolonged freezing temperatures and grows best when it is not exposed to frost.


Spacing


Space the Amla tree approx. 20-30 feet away from each other. However, in forests, these trees grow more densely.


Amla Tree Care


Pruning


Prune it back to keep in shape and control each year in December or January in tropics and spring in subtropics. All the dead, damaged, diseased branches or the ones that are entangled and crossing each other must be removed from time to time. If the tree starts to produce less fruit, cut it back to about five feet in the spring to rejuvenate it.


Fertilizer


Since you are growing it for yourself, our recommendation is to use only natural fertilizers. Application of aged manure is sufficient for this tree. Although, if the tree is producing poorly you can fertilize it with fruit fertilizer according to the product’s instructions.


Mulching


Do thick mulching with lots of organic matter at the end of spring to help the substrate in retaining moisture.


Harvesting


Growing amla tree from seed takes around five years to produce fruits. Fruits are hard and glossy, of dull green color and generally appear from January to March in tropics. The mature fruits are hard and they do not fall at gentle touch and therefore vigorous shaking is required. Fruits can also be harvested using long bamboo poles attached with hooks.


Pests, Diseases and Their Controls


Pest and their control:


Bark eating caterpillar: They damage the stem and bark by feeding themselves. Application of quinalphos @0.01% or fenvalerate @0.05% is given in their holes to protect from insect.


Gall caterpillar: They bore in apical meristem and makes tunnel.

Application of Dimethoate @0.03% is given to control the pest.


Disease and their control:


Rust: Circular red rust appear on the leaves and on fruits. Application of Indofil M-45 @0.3% is given twice. Once is given in early September and then after 15 days to control crop from diseases.


Internal necrosis: mainly caused due to the deficiency of boron. Tissues turn brown and then black are the symptoms of this disease.

Application of boron @0.6% is done in the month of September to October to get rid of this disease.


Fruit rot: The symptoms of this disease are swelling and color changing of fruits.

Application of borax or NaCl @0.1%-0.5% is done to cure from this disease.

Religious significance


The tree is considered sacred by Hindus as the Vishnu is believed to dwell here. The tree is worshipped on Amalaka Ekadashi.


In other Hindu myths, Aamla is said to be originated from the drops of Amrit which spilled on earth accidentally, due to the fight of Gods and Demons after ksheera sagar manthan. And hence also this religious belief makes claims that it almost cures every disease and is also good in extending the longevity of life.


Benefits of Indian Gooseberries


May Boost Immunity


Indian gooseberries are a natural immune booster as they contain a powerful cocktail of vitamins C and A, polyphenols, alkaloids, and flavonoids such as quercetin and kaempferol. Amla has potent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Amla juice, in Ayurveda, is often used to increase the white blood cells in the body, which are the mainline of defense for the immune system. White blood cells attack and eliminate foreign toxins and substances into the bloodstream throughout the body.


May Aid in Hair Care


Amla powder is used in many hair tonics as it can enrich hair growth and hair pigmentation. It may strengthen the roots, maintains color, and improves luster. Applying amla oil to the roots of your hair may improve hair growth and color. Amla oil is very popular in India because it has been shown to reduce the chances of hair loss and baldness. This quality may be due to the carotene content of amla, as well as its iron and antioxidant content that prevents free radical damage to hair follicles and hormones.


Possible Anti-aging Agent


Amla may prevent health-related hyperlipidemia by reducing the number of free radicals in the body through its antioxidant qualities. Vitamin C and antioxidants help scavenge free radicals; free radicals are associated with signs of aging like wrinkles and age spots. Amla powder is used as a face mask to remove age spots.


May Aid in Digestion


Amla is possibly high in fiber, like most fruits. Fiber adds bulk to the stool and helps move food through the bowels and may keep bowel movements regular. This can reduce the chances of constipation. Soluble fiber (found in many fruits) can also bulk up loose stools and reduce diarrhea. Amla also stimulates the secretion of gastric and digestive juices, so food is digested efficiently, nutrients are absorbed optimally, and you feel lighter and healthier.


It may also provide from the various gastric syndromes and hyperchlorhydria (burning sensation in the abdomen). As a laxative, it helps flush out toxins or harmful substances that cause discomfort or illness, so the process can begin. It then cools the burning sensation and reduces the discomfort often felt during diarrhea.


May Control Blood Sugar


Gooseberry contains chromium, which has a therapeutic value for diabetics. It stimulates the isolated group of cells that secrete insulin, thus reducing blood sugar in people with diabetes. When blood sugar is reduced, glucose is used by the cells as functional energy. Thus, the metabolism is stronger and you have more energy, without the plunges and spikes in blood sugar that are dangerous for people with diabetes. Chromium also enhances the effect of beta-blockers, which are used for heart health, by reducing the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body.


May Help Improve Heart Health


Berries –like blueberries and gooseberries–have been proven to improve heart health. Amla powder strengthens the heart muscles, so the blood circulation is more effective throughout the body. Amla is shown to have a hypolipidemic effect on the body and also helps in reducing blood pressure. Its hypolipidemic effect also protects us from atherosclerosis and coronary artery diseases. The iron content in amla also promotes the creation of new red blood cells, thereby increasing circulation and the oxygenation of organs and cells to maximize growth and regeneration of tissues.


May Act as a Diuretic


Besides being a fruit that is possibly high in water content, amla is also slightly diuretic in nature. This means that it may promote urination. Urination may help our body eliminate unwanted toxins and excess levels of water, salt, and uric acid. Therefore, a diuretic substance is often beneficial for keeping your kidneys healthy and for preventing urinary and uterine infections.


May Aid in Eye Care


Drinking gooseberry juice – which is rich in vitamin A – with a bit of honey, is good for improving eyesight. It helps improve nearsightedness and cataracts while reducing intraocular tension. This is mainly due to its impressive carotene content, which has long been known for its powerful effect on vision-related conditions, including those that stem from the free radical damage. Vitamin A and carotene improves vision, while also lowering the risk of macular degeneration and night blindness.


May Treat Cough and Cold


Amla is a very rich source of vitamin C, which makes it a great treatment for colds and coughs. It is one of the primary ingredients in Chyawanprash, which is an Ayurvedic health supplement consumed to increase immunity and overall health. It also possesses antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties, thereby making it effective against cold and fever.


May Boost Liver Health


Drinking amla juice, as per Ayurveda, boosts vitality and vigor, and the underlying reason for it is probably linked to its ability to re-energize the liver. Liver health is not paid much attention to, even though it affects a large part of the population. The fruit is effective in preventing the toxic effects of excessive medication and toxic metals. The presence of phytochemicals such as quercetin, gallic acid, corilagin, and ellagic acid in amla helps in free radical scavenging and turn, detoxifying the body.


Also, amla extract is known to promote liver function as it normalizes the activity of alanine transaminase (ALT), which is a significant factor in liver diseases.


May Help Reduce Menstrual Discomfort


Traditionally, in India, amla is used to reduce menstrual discomfort and to reduce nausea during pregnancy. It may suggest that consuming amla regularly allows its nutrients to stay in the system and may help reduce menstrual cramps.


May Help Suppress Appetite


Consuming gooseberry powder with other spices such as cayenne pepper, cumin seeds, and turmeric may help in better satiety between meals. It may suppress hunger and also reduces the desire to eat immediately after. However, more research on this is still required.


Uses

  • The fruits are more commonly used to make jams, jellies, tarts, chutneys etc.

  • The fruit is often used as a wayside nibble to quench the thirst.

  • Seed is used in the manufacture of black salt.

  • In Ayurveda, dried and fresh fruits of the plant are used as a common constituent.

  • In the Batak area of Sumatra, Indonesia, the inner bark is used to impart an astringent, bitter taste to the broth of a traditional fish soup known as holat.

  • The amla fruit is eaten raw or cooked into various dishes, such as dal (a lentil preparation) and amle ka murabbah, a sweet dish made by soaking the berries in sugar syrup until they are candied. It is traditionally consumed after meals.

  • It is used to preparation of various health care products also like hair oil, dye, shampoo, face creams and tooth powder.

  • It is also used to straighten hair.

  • Amla powder can be mixed with water, honey, or yogurt to be made into a hair or face mask.

  • Amla juice diluted with water early in the morning on an empty stomach helps keep the digestive system healthy and aids in managing blood sugar levels.

  • Massaging the head with amla oil, induce sound sleep and is good for hair.


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