Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Phyllanthus emblica
L., Phyllanthaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  no

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Common name(s): [more details]

Chinese: yu gan zi

English: emblic, emblic myrobalan, Indian gooseberry, Indian-gooseberry

French: groseillier de Ceylan, myrobalan emblic

Spanish: mirobalano, nelí

Habit:  tree

Description:  "Tree greater than 8 m tall; main axis with cataphylls; deciduous branchlets pinnatiform, more than 25 cm long. Leaves to 100 per branch; petioles 0.3-0.7 mm long; blades linear-oblong, 12-20 x 2-5 mm, base rounded, apex obtuse to acute, margin thickened, chartaceous. Cymules unisexual or bisexual, aggregated in naked, cauliflorous thyrses; staminate flowers with pedicels 1-2.5 mm long, stamens 3, united in column; pistillate flowers subsessile. Capsules ovoid, 2.5-3 cm in diameter, pericarp yellow-green, fleshy, endocarp bony but explosively dehiscent into 3, two-valved cocci when pericarp is removed" (Howard, 1989; p. 76).

Habitat/ecology:  "The emblic is subtropical rather than strictly tropical. In India, it flourishes from sea-level up to an altitude of 5,000 ft (1,800 m). The emblic seems to grow equally well under both and and humid conditions. It is noted for being able to thrive in regions too dry and soil too poor for most other fruit crops." (NewCROP)

Propagation:  Seed

Native range:  "Tropical Asia but introduced and cultivated elsewhere" (Howard, 1989; p. 76).


Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Australia (continental)
Australia (continental) introduced
Csurhes, S./Edwards, R. (1998) (p. 123)
Indonesia (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Malaysia (country of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Singapore (Republic of) native
Chong, Kwek Yan/Tan, Hugh T. W./Corlett, Richard T. (2009) (p. 69)
Critically endangered

Comments:  A potentially invasive species in Australia (Csurhes & Edwards, 1998; p. 123).

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This page was created on 17 JAN 2004 and was last updated on 12 DEC 2006.