Family: Phyllanthaceae (Amla family)
Genus: Phyllanthus
Botanical name: Phyllanthus acidus
Sanskrit: Lavaliphala
Hindi: Harfarauri English: Star Gooseberry, Otaheite gooseberry, Malay gooseberry
Malayalam: Arinali Arenali
Arinali 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 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. 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.
Various parts of the plant are used for food. In India and Indonesia, the cooked leaves are eaten. While the fruit is eaten fresh, and is sometimes used as flavoring for other dishes in Indonesia, it is generally regarded as too tart to eat by itself in its natural form and is processed further. It is candiedin sugar or pickled in salt, used in chutney, relish or preserves. In the Philippines, it is used to make vinegar as well as eaten raw, soaked in salt or vinegar-salt solution and sold along the roadside. It is candied as well, usually stored in jars with syrup. They make these into a syrup in Malaysia. Liberally sugared, it is also used to make fruit juice. In Thailand it is used as an ingredient to make Som tam. The plant is also used medicinally. The peppered leaves are used to make a poultice to treat sciatica, lumbago and rheumatism, while the seeds are used as a cathartic and the root as a purgative. The syrup is used to medicate the stomach, and in India the fruit is eaten as a blood-enhancer for the liver.
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