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Star Gooseberry

Phyllanthus acidus, known as the Otaheite gooseberry, Malay gooseberry, Tahitian gooseberry, country gooseberry, star gooseberry, starberry, arbari, West India gooseberry, or simply gooseberry tree, is one of the trees with edible small yellow berries fruit in the family Phyllanthaceae. Despite its name, the plant does not resemble the gooseberry, except for the acidity of its fruits. The plant is native to coastal region of north-eastern Brazil, and has been often wrongly ascribed to Madagascar, India or Polynesia. It is now naturalized and cultivated pan-tropically in India, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, South Vietnam, Laos, Peninsular Malaysia, Polynesia and all the larger islands of the West Indies. Plant grows on a wide range of soils but prefers rather moist sites. The tree usually flowers and produces fruit twice a year. Fruits appear simultaneously with the flowers. So, the tree usually has fruits hanging from it, at any time of the year. Different parts of the plant are used for food.

Phyllanthus acidus is an intermediary between a shrub and tree. 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 upperside and blue-green on the underside. In general, the Otaheite gooseberry tree very much looks like the bilimbi tree. The flowers can be male, female or hermaphrodite. They are small and pinkish and appear in clusters in 5-to-12.5-cm long panicles. Flowers are formed at leafless parts of the main branches, at the upper part of the tree. Flowering normally takes place in between April and May. The fruits are numerous, oblate, with 6 to 8 ribs, and densely clustered. They are pale yellow or white, waxy, crisp and juicy, and very sour. 4 to 6 seeds are contained in a stone at the center of each fruit.

Table of Contents


6 - 30 feet

Approximate pH

5.5 - 8.0

Growing Star Gooseberry

Growing in a planter /flowerpot / containers:

When grow in container need to choose the desirable container if it’s small plant it directly if it’s a big container bigger than 30%-50% than the root ball, every time that the tree arrive to full capacity need to switch to bigger until arrives to desirable size, better to switch the soil once in few years soil lose the viability over time and it’s efficient of care for the tree, when it’s not possible to switch all the soil just part of the soil in the side of the roots (don’t afraid from root cutting), it will bear fruits also in 5-10gallon (40 liter) container (but bigger is better), drainage it’s important and need to make holes and to use peat soil and maybe some lava grit in the bottom or something like that, put a bottom for the container and when water the plant let it fill the bottom but also need to dry in the same day, better to grow as dwarf tree or to grow it as bonsai.

How to grow star gooseberry from seed:

Sowing requirement: Moist soil, humidity, if there is enough seeds just put them direct in the garden in sunny location keep the soil moist and it will grow

Saving seeds and care until sowing: Dry and dark location

Sowing season: Spring – better in spring but possible also in the summer and in tropical climate possible all year

Planting spacing: In different pots, or just to through a lot if seeds in hole and choose the better quality

Depth of Sowing: 2-4cm (0.5-1inch)

Conditions for seeds germinate: Moist soil, high humidity, hot weather

Watering requires for Seeds: Average amount of water / Big amount of water

Germination time: 4-8 weeks

Condition of seedling: Full sun, moist soil, watering regular and better with high humidity

Star Gooseberry Care


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.

Harvesting Star Gooseberry

Fully developed pale yellow colored fruits are harvested. Delay in harvesting results in heavy dropping of fruits. Harvesting is usually done during the early or in the late hours of the day. A budded/grafted tree starts bearing third year onwards after planting, whereas a seedling tree may take 6-8 years. Vegetative propagated plants attain full bearing within 10-12 years and may continue to bear for 60-75 years of age under well managed conditions.


If consuming star gooseberries in a few days, keep the fruits at room temperature. Otherwise, place in the refrigerator in a plastic container or airtight bag. Star gooseberries are hardy fruits that keep for a few weeks to a month. It’s possible to freeze the fruit as well: simply place in a freezer bag and consume within the year.

Place dried fruits in a dark, airtight container where they can keep for a few years—place them out of direct sunlight to preserve their longevity.

Pruning and Propagation


The plants are trained to modified central leader system. Two to four branches with wide crotch angle, appearing in the opposite directions should be encouraged in early years. The unwanted branches are pinched off during March-April. In the 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 of all determinate shoots encourages new growth in coming season. However, dead, infested, broken, weak or overlapping branches should be removed regularly.


It can be easily propagated by seed, which may bear in 4 years, or by budding, greenwood cuttings, and air-layering.

Pests and Diseases

Every fruit tree has the future potential for disease and insect damage. Factors such as location and weather will play a part in which issues your tree encounters. If available, disease-resistant trees are the best option for easy care; and for all trees, proper maintenance (such as watering, fertilizing, pruning, spraying, weeding, and fall cleanup) can help keep most insects and diseases at bay.

There is no serious pest or disease problems. Watch for aphids, spider mites, and mealybug.

Benefits of Star Gooseberry

1. Treat Constipation

Star gooseberry is considered beneficial in treating constipation. Because it consists of lots of Vitamin C, Star gooseberry fruit has the benefit of digestion and overcome constipation. Just like other vitamin C fruit, this fruit is suitable for intestinal cleansing as well.

2. Healthy Skin

Vitamin C contained in fruit provides benefits to our skin. The skin will be bright, clean, and soft. Vitamin C plays an important role in skin health affairs. Therefore try Star gooseberry consumption in any form because vitamin C is high.

3. Good for Digestion

Star gooseberry fruit becomes the fruit that can help slimming body. Star gooseberry has a sour taste and can also make the stomach become slimmer when consumed frequently. This is because the digestion is supported and the appetite is reduced somewhat due to the taste of acid on the tongue. Keep in mind this drug works very strongly, therefore consume it efficiently only occasionally.

4. Cure Cancer

You can use young Star gooseberry leaves as much as 1/4 handheld mixed with leaf 1/3 handheld leaf, ladle upas 1/2 finger, Chinese gadung 1/2 finger, sugar enau 3 fingers, washed and cut into pieces. Boil all ingredients using 3 cups water until the remaining 3/4 parts only. Chill and strain and drink three times a day.

5. Treating Asthma

To cure your asthma you can take about 6 seeds of Star gooseberry, mixed with red onion 2 grains, kara root 1/4 handheld and 8 grains of litchi. All materials are washed and then ground. Boil all ingredients and let it boil from 2 cups water until remaining 1 1/2 cups. Then drink boiled water Star gooseberry leaves earlier.

6. Healthy Bones

Star gooseberry fruit can nourish the bones. Calcium and iron contained in this fruit can help nourish the bones to keep strong and not porous. Bones will be stronger.


Culinary Uses

  • Mature fruits are acidic, eaten fresh or as pickles.

  • Fruit flesh is added to many dishes in Indonesia as a flavoring.

  • Fruit juice is used to make cold drinks in Philippines.

  • Ripe and unripe fruits are served as a relish, syrup or sweet preserve in Malaysia.

  • Fruits are also combined with other fruits in making chutney or jam, because of their setting properties.

  • Young leaves are cooked as a vegetable in Indonesia, Thailand and India.

  • Fruit juice added with sugar is used as cold drinks.

  • Fruits are also made used to prepare chutney, rely or preserves along with other fruits.

  • Flesh must be sliced from the stone, or the fruits must be cooked and then pressed through a sieve to separate the stones.

  • Sliced raw flesh can be covered with sugar and let stand in the refrigerator for a day.

  • Bahamian cooks soak the whole fruits in salty water overnight to reduce the acidity, then rinse, boil once or twice, discarding the water, then boil with equal amount of sugar until thick, and put up in sterilized jars without removing seeds.

  • Ripe or unripe Otaheite gooseberry is cooked and served as a relish, or made into a thick syrup or sweet preserve in Malaya.

  • Fruits are candied, or pickled in salt.

  • They are used to make vinegar in Philippines.

  • Fruits are excellent for processing into pickles and sweetened dried fruits.

  • In Indonesia, the sour fruits are used as a condiment in cooking to flavor dishes and served as a substitute for Assam and used as an ingredient in sambal and sayur or used in rojak mixture.

Traditional uses

  • Acidic fruits are considered to have medicinal properties and are consumed as blood-enhancer for liver.

  • Syrup is also used in the treatment of stomach ailments.

  • Peppered leaves are used to make a poultice for treatment of rheumatism.

  • Latex is recognized with emetic and purgative activity.

  • Bark is heated with coconut oil and spread on eruptions on feet and hands I Indonesia.

  • An infusion of the root is taken to alleviate asthma in Java.

  • Roots are used in the treatment of psoriasis of the feet in Bornea.

  • Although the roots are weakly poisonous, they used to be boiled and the vapor inhaled to relieve cough and headache in Malaysia.

  • Leaf decoctions are applied to urticaria, and a decoction of the bark is used to treat bronchial catarrh in Philippines.

  • Fruits are taken as a liver tonic to enrich the blood in India.

  • Juice of the root bark is reported to have been used in criminal poisonings.

  • It is used in the treatment of psoriasis, sciatica, rheumatism, constipation, renal calculus, diabetes, asthma, gonorrhea, amnesia and piles.

  • The syrup is prescribed as a stomachic; and the seeds are cathartic.

  • Leaves, with added pepper, are poultice on sciatica, lumbago or rheumatism.

  • Decoction of the leaves is given as a sudorific.

  • Because of the mucilaginous nature of the leaves, they are taken as a demulcent in cases of gonorrhea.

  • Root is severely purgative and regarded as toxic in Malaya but is boiled and the steam inhaled to relieve coughs and headache.

  • Root infusion is taken in very small doses to alleviate asthma.

  • Externally, the root is used to treat psoriasis of the soles of feet.

  • Juice of the root bark, which consists of saponin, gallic acid, tannin and a crystalline substance which may be lupeol, has been used in criminal poisoning.

  • Bark yields a decoction, which is used in bronchial catarrh.

  • Root is drastically purgative and regarded as toxic in Malaya but is boiled and the steam inhaled to relieve coughs and headache.

  • In Borneo, leaves are used, with pepper, for poulticing for lumbago, or sciatica, and the root is used externally to treat psoriasis of the soles of feet.

  • Extract from the root to cure skin diseases especially relief from itching in Thailand.

  • Leaves are used as one of the ingredients in Thai medicine to control fever.

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