Phyllanthus acidus [Otaheite gooseberry, Malay gooseberry, Tahitian gooseberry, country gooseberry, star gooseberry, West India gooseberry or simply gooseberry tree] is one of the trees with edible small yellow berries fruit in the Phyllanthaceae family. Despite its name, the plant does not resemble the gooseberry, except for the acidity of its fruits.
The plant is an intermediary between shrubs and tree, reaching 2 to 9 m [6½ to 30 ft] high. The tree’s dense and bushy crown is composed of thick, tough main branches and at the end of which are clusters of deciduous, green 15-to-30-cm long branches. The branches 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 upper side and blue-green on the underside. In general, the Phyllanthus acidus tree very much looks like the bilimbi tree.
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.
This tropical or subtropical species is found throughout Asia and also has a home in the Caribbean region, Central and South America. In Southeast Asia, Phyllanthus acidus local names as in Indonesia: ceremai ; Malaysia: cermai; India: chalmeri/harpharoi; Philippine: iba in Tagalog; Cambodia: kantuet; Thailand: mayom.
Photo: Kebun Raya, Bogor, West Java, Indonesia 20061031