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Emblica officinalis Gaertn.

Family Name: Euphorbiaceae
Synonyms: Phyllanthus emblica L.
Common Name: Indian Gooseberry, Emblic
Full Sun Moderate Water Native to Singapore Fruit or Vegetable 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 (Big (>30m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Irregular
Maximum Height 18 m to 32 m


Native Distribution India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Southeast Asia, and China
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Secondary Rainforest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Critically Endangered (CR))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a large tree with thick arching branches, 18-32 m tall.
Foliage Its alternate, stalked leaves have papery leaf blades that are oblong or linear-oblong, green above, paler below, reddish or brownish when dry, and 512 cm by 1.52.5 cm.
Flowers Its flowers are about 3 mm across, white, and grow in clusters at terminal shoots.
Fruits Its fruits are green-yellow, slightly round, about 2030 mm across, and have a fleshy fruit wall. Its reddish seeds are 3.94.5 mm long.
Habitat It grows in forests up to 1450 m altitude. It occurs locally in the vicinity of MacRitchie Reservoir.
Associated Fauna It is the preferred local food plant for caterpillars of the several moth species including Arctoscelis epinyctia; Dysgonia joviana; Ectropina acidula; Ectropis bhurmitra; Hypolamprus emblicalis; Maxates dissimulata; Thaumatotibia encarpa; and Zeuzera coffeae.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed.
Etymology Greek phyllon, a leaf, Greek anthus, flower, referring to the flowers in the axils of the leaves of the phyllomorphic branch; emblica, from the Sanskrit name amalika, which means sour
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Fruits)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable : Sour fruits are rich in vitamin C and may be eaten raw or cooked. They are added to desserts and condiments, such as preserves, tarts and chutney. Outdoor laborers consume the fruit as a thirst quencher, because the sour taste stimulates saliva production..)
Medicinal ( Its fruit pulp is smeared on the head to dispel headache and dizziness, caused by excessive heat and fever. Its fruit juice is used for the treatment of inflamed eyes, colic, and other abdominal disorders. Its fruit is valued as a refrigerant, diuretic and antibiotic, and considered useful in the treatments of haemorrhages, diarrhea, dysentery, anaemia, jaundice, scurvy, dyspepsia, diabetes, fever, bronchitis and cough. It is used as an ingredient for several medicines of the indigenous Ayurvedic system. Its leaf decoctions are used as a febrifuge and for skin diseases. Its seeds are applied against asthma, bronchitis, and biliousness, whereas flowers are credited with refrigerant and laxative properties. Its bark is used for the treatment of diarrhoea or as a stomachium for elephants. Its root bark is used as an astringent and mixed with honey, to treat inflammation in the mouth.)
Timber & Products ( Its wood is used for the construction of furniture and implements; it is very durable when submerged. Its wood is also suitable as firewood and produces charcoal of good quality.)
[Others]: The Akha in northern Thailand use the fruit as a masticatory and to blacken the teeth. Its dried fruits are sometimes used as a shampoo. Its fruits, leaves and bark are used for tanning and dyeing. Its leaves and fruits are used for animal fodder, whereas leaves can also be applied as green manure.

Landscaping Features

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

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Caterpillar Moth Food Plant
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Bee))
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Papery
Foliar Type Compound (Even-Pinnate)
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Oblong, Linear)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire, Pinnately Lobed / Pinnatifid
Foliar Apex - Tip Rounded

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) White
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Terminal

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms White
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Smooth
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Fleshy Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Non-Accessory Fruit

Image Repository



Master ID 29390
Species ID 3699
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 22 September 2022.