Plant Name: Phyllanthus emblica L.
English: Indian Gooseberry
Interesting facts and history
The tree is considered sacred by Hindus as God Vishnu is believed to dwell in it. The tree is worshiped on Amalaka Ekadashi.
In other Hindu beliefs, amla is said to have originated from the drops of Amrit which spilled on earth accidentally, because of the fight of gods and demons after ksheera sagar manthan. This religious belief makes claims that it almost cures every disease and is also good in extending the longevity of life.
In the Sanskrit Buddhist tradition, half an amala fruit was the final gift to the Buddhist sangha by the great Indian emperor Ashoka.
- It is one of the richest known sources of vitamin 'C'.
- It is considered to be a good remedy against heart diseases.
- It serves to tone all the vital organs of the body and builds health by eradicating the harmful disease-causing elements from the body.
- The herb has amazing revitalizing effects on the body. It helps prevent aging and maintain strength in the old age. It also enhances the immunity of body against diseases.
The tree is small to medium in size, reaching 1–8 m (3 ft 3 in–26 ft 3 in) in height.
The branchlets aren't glabrous or finely pubescent, 10–20 cm (3.9–7.9 in) long, usually deciduous.
Leaves are simple, subsessile and closely set along branchlets, light green, resembling pinnate leaves.
The fruit is nearly spherical, light greenish yellow, quite smooth and hard on appearance, with six vertical stripes or furrows.
The flowers are greenish-yellow.
Habit / Habitat
A small deciduous tree, up to 8m.
Found along hill slopes, on exposed slopes in dry deciduous forests above 800-1500m. Dry and moist deciduous forests, also cultivated in the plains.
1) Availability of the plant species in India: Throughout India except Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh.
2) Global distribution: Throughout the tropics, widely in Indian subcontinent, South and Southeast Asia.
World wide use: Fruits
Used by tribal community in Jawhar: Fruits
Method of consumption
Fruits are eaten raw or pickled or sun dried and eated.
It is also used in the form of chutney, Murabba, dry crescents, dry patties and powdered form also.
Jawhar: Stem extract used in dental pain.
Worldwide all parts of the plant including the fruit, seed, leaves, root, bark, and flowers are used in both dried and fresh forms for various medicinal applications.
Nutritional and medicinal information
- Chemical analysis of the fruit reeled that it consists of 3 times protein and 160 times ascorbic acid if compared with an apple. It also has a good composition of minerals and other vitamins and hence considered as a nutritious food source.
- The fruits has been analysed for its antioxidant potential by lipid peroxidation and DPPH systems and it has been observed that the compound shows strong antioxidant and radical scavenging activities. Also compounds like quercetin 3-β-d-glucopyranoside, kaempferol 3-β-d-glucopyranoside, isocorilagin and kaempferol were identified for the first time in the emblica fruit.
- Anticancer and hepatoprotective activity has also been recorded.
Harvesting and preserving
The berries are harvested by hand after climbing to upper branches bearing the fruits.
Fruits dried and stored as pickles or in powdered form.
Propagation and Storage
Season of collection
How to grow it?
It is a tropical plant. Annual rainfall of 630-800 mm is ideal for its growth
Soak seeds in boiled water for 5min.
Fill seedling pots with a potting soil containing equal portions of sand, compost, and garden loam. Plant one amla seed in each pot, placing each seed at a depth three times its diameter in the potting soil.
Germination should occur in two weeks to one month. Continue to grow the seedlings in pots for eight to 10 months, until they reach 10 to 12 inches in height.
Choose a planting location with deep, rich, well-drained loam and full sun exposure.
Pollinators: Insect, Wind
Method of storage
Storage of the Propagules
- Popularly used in inks, shampoos and hair oils, the high tannin content of Indian gooseberry fruit serves as a mordant for fixing dyes in fabrics.
- Amla shampoos and hair oil are traditionally believed to nourish the hair and scalp and prevent premature grey hair.
10 http://www.drugs.com/npp/emblica.html (Shanmugasundaram KR, Seethapathy PG, Anna Pavala Sindhooram–an antiatherosclerotic Indian drug. J Ethnopharmacol . 1983;7(3):247-265)