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Phyllanthus acidus (L.) Skeels

Family Name: Phyllanthaceae
Common Name: Otaheite Gooseberry, Malay Gooseberry, Chermai
Full Sun: 6-8h Moderate Water Fruit & Vegetable Woody Tree


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Shrubby (1m-5m), Small (6m-15m)), Shrub (Woody)
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 2 m to 9 m


Native Distribution Brazil
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status 1 Exotic (Horticultural / Cultivated Only)

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a shrub or small tree, 2-9 m tall.
Foliage Its simple, alternately arranged, stalked leaves are ovate in shape, about 2-7 cm long, and are arranged in two ranks along the branches.
Flowers Its small flowers are arranged on a panicle, up to 12cm long.
Fruits Its fruits are round, lobed drupes, about 1-2.5cm, ripening pale yellow.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed.
Etymology Greek Phyllanthus, leaf-flower. Latin acidus, sour-tasting, referring to the taste of the fruits.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Fruits)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable : The fruits are eaten raw with sugar, or cooked. The young leaves are consumed as vegetable.)
Medicinal ( The roots are used medicinally as a purgative, and used in infusions to relief asthma and various skin diseases.)
[Others]: The root bark is used in tanning.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is suitable for planting in parks and gardens for its edible fruits and bushy form.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Form
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils
Landscape Uses Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Ovate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Unisexual & Bisexual Flowers(Sub-dioecious)
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary
Flower Symmetry Radial

Fruit, Seed & Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Cream / Off-White
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Fleshy Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Non-Accessory Fruit

Image Repository



Master ID 29360
Species ID 3669
Species record last updated on: 16 May 2019.