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Phyllanthus emblica - L.

Common Name Emblica, Indian Gooseberry
Family Phyllanthaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Mixed forests[306 ]. Drier forests[307 ]. Dry open sparse forests or scrub, village groves at elevations of 200 - 2,300 metres in southern China[266 ].
Range E. Asia - China, Indian subcontinent, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (5 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Phyllanthus emblica Emblica, Indian Gooseberry

Phyllanthus emblica Emblica, Indian Gooseberry


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Emblic or Phyllanthus emblica is a slow-growing, deciduous tree popular for its edible fruit. It reaches a height of up to 18 m upon maturity and it has simple, light green, pinnate leaves. Its flowers are greenish yellow. Its bole is often twisted and about 35 cm in diameter. The fruits are usually made into desserts or jams. A plant with high tannin content, particularly its fruits, bark, and leaves, Emblic is a known traditional medicine for the treatment of a wide range of conditions like fever, constipation, cough, and asthma. Emblic is tolerant to drought and forest fire. Plants can be grown from seed, ring budding, or veneer grafting. Other common names include Indian Gooseberry, Amla, Aonla, Amloki, Nelli, Malacca tree and Dhatri.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Phyllanthus emblica is a deciduous Shrub growing to 15 m (49ft) by 15 m (49ft) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Bees. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Cicca emblica (L.) Kurz Diasperus emblica (L.) Kuntze Dichelactina nodicaulis Hance Emblica arborea

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Leaves  Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Oil  Pectin

Fruit - raw or cooked[301 , 418 ]. An acid, rather astringent flavour, they are not often eaten raw unless accompanied with sugar, salt or chillies to moderate them[299 , 301 ]. The astringency can be removed by steeping the fruits in brine for a few days[299 ]. The fruits are more commonly used to make jams, jellies, tarts, chutneys etc[301 ]. The fruit is often used as a wayside nibble to quench the thirst[306 ]. Rich in pectin, the fruit is said to be one of the richest natural sources of vitamin C[200 , 298 , 306 ], the fruit is also a good source of carbohydrate and minerals[200 ]. The mature fruit contains 1 - 1.8% vitamin C[266 ]. The yellow fruit is up to 25mm in diameter[200 ]. Fruits of wild plants weigh approximately 5.5g, cultivated fruits average 28 - 50g[ Many Hindus regard emblic as sacred and the Hindu religion prescribes that ripe fruit be eaten for 40 days after a fast in order to restore health and vitality. It is a common practice for Indian housewives to cook the fruits with sugar and saffron and give one or two to a child every morning[306 ]. Fruits are often preserved by splitting, removing the stone, putting the segments into a solution of 42% glycerol, 42% sucrose, water and preservatives, then heating to 90°c for 3 minutes. The fruits are allowed to equilibrate in the solution for two days at 2°c, then they are drained and packed into containers. Fruits preserved in this way remain acceptable for about 2 months at room temperature, and much longer when cooled, but the ascorbic acid content drops slowly[299 ]. Leaves - cooked. Small, with a bitter flavour[298 ]. Unripe seed[301 ]. Seeds yield about 16% of a brownish yellow oil with linoleic acid (44%), oleic acid (28.4%), linolenic acid (8.8%), stearic acid (2.2%), palmitic acid (3.0%) and myristic acid (1.0%)[299 ]. Used in the manufacture of black salt[301 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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Antidiarrhoeal  Antipyretic  Antiscorbutic  Antitumor  Antitussive  Astringent  Diuretic  Dysentery  
Expectorant  Hypoglycaemic  Laxative  Ophthalmic  Purgative  Tonic  Vitamin C

Emblic is of great importance in traditional Asiatic medicine, not only as an antiscorbutic, but also in the treatment of diverse ailments, especially those associated with the digestive organs. In Thailand emblic fruits are traditionally used as an expectorant, antipyretic, diuretic, antidiarrhoeal and antiscorbutic[306 ]. Many of these traditional uses have been confirmed by research into the active ingredients in the plants and their properties. The fruits, bark and leaves are rich in tannin[299 ]. The dried pulp of unripe fruits contains 18 - 35% tannin; the content of ripe fruits is much lower. The dry stem bark contains 8 - 20% tannin. The bark of twigs is usually richer, containing 12 - 24% tannin on dry weight basis. Leaves may yield 22 - 28% tannin[299 ]. The tannins of the fruit belong to the group of gallotannins and ellagitannins, giving on hydrolysis large amounts of gallic acid, small amounts of ellagic acid, and glucose[299 ]. The tannin of the bark belongs to the group of proanthocyanidins, giving (+)leucodelphinidin on hydrolysis[299 ]. The fruit is an extremely rich source of ascorbic acid, 100g of juice containing 600 - 1,300mg, sometimes even more[299 ]. The tannin in the fruit prevents or retards the oxidation of the vitamin, so that the fruits can be preserved in salt solution or as dry powder while still maintaining their antiscorbutic value[299 ]. The tannoid principles are potent inhibitors of aldose reductase and may be effective in the management of diabetic complications, including cataract[299 ] The fruits are a rich source of pectin[299 ]. Many of the medicinal applications of the fruits can be ascribed to the presence of ascorbic acid and to the astringent action of the tannins, but the fruits contain other active compounds as well. Fruit extracts showed anti-oxidant and antitumour activities in in-vitro and animal tests. They also exhibited cholesterol-lowering, antitussive, anti-ulcerative and hepatoprotective properties and showed potent inhibitory activity on HIV reverse transcriptase; for the latter activity putranjivain A was the most active compound isolated[299 ] Phyllemblin has also been isolated from the fruits; it potentiates the action of adrenaline, has a mild depressant action on the central nervous system and has spasmolytic properties[299 ]. Leaf extracts have shown inhibitory activity on human leukocytes and platelets, which at least partly confirms their anti-inflammatory and antipyretic properties[299 ]. The fruits have diuretic, laxative and purgative activities and also show molluscicidal and antimicrobial properties. A principal ingredient of various Ayurvedic tonic formulae[301 ], the fruit is given in order to allay the effects of aging and to restore the organs[254 ]. The sour fruits are one of the ingredients of 'triphala', an Ayurvedic rejuvenating, laxative tonic based on this species plus the fruits of Terminalia bellirica and Terminalia chebula[238 ]. The juice of the fruit is also given in order to strengthen the pancreas of diabetics, as well as in the treatment of eye problems, joint pain, diarrhoea and dysentery[254 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Charcoal  Dye  Filter  Fuel  Furniture  Green manure  Hair  Ink  Mordant  Oil  Pectin  Pioneer  Soil reclamation  Stuffing  Tannin  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: The branches are lopped for green manure[299 , 418 ]. They are said to correct excessively alkaline soils[306 ]. The tree is planted as a pioneer species in northern Thailand in reforestation projects to restore native woodland - it is planted in degraded woodland and open areas in a mix with various other species that all have the ability to grow fast; produce dense, weed-suppressing crowns; and attract seed-dispersing wildlife, particularly birds and bats[998 ]. Other Uses: The bark, as well as the roots, leaves and immature fruits, are highly valued as a source of tannins[46 , 299 , 306 , 418 ]. The bark of shoots less than 5 cm in diameter is used to obtain a good tannin. Usually, branches can be coppiced every 2 years. Quickly-dried bark contains much more tannin than slowly-dried bark. Therefore it has been recommended to dry the bark rapidly in the sun[299 ]. The leaves are used for dyeing matting, bamboo wickerwork, silk and wool into brown colours. Grey and black colours are obtained when iron salts are used as mordants[299 ]. Matting can be dyed dark colours with a decoction of the bark[299 ]. The fruits are used to prepare a black ink and a hair dye[299 ]. Branches and chips of the wood are thrown into muddy streams to clear the water and to impart a pleasant flavour[303 , 306 ]. The dried leaves are sometimes used as fillings in pillows[266 ]. The dried fruits are said to have detergent properties and are used for washing the head in parts of Nepal[272 ]. A fixed oil derived from the fruit allegedly acts as a hair-restorer and is used in shampoos in India[303 ]. A most curious custom is the making of simulated pottery jars from a paste of the boiled fruit, the surface is decorated with impressed coloured seeds[303 ]. The red wood is close-grained, fairly heavy, hard but flexible, though highly subject to warping and splitting. It is used for minor construction, furniture, implements, gunstocks, hookahs and ordinary pipes[299 , 306 , 418 ]. Very durable when submerged and believed to clarify water, it is utilized for making crude aqueducts and inner braces for wells[299 , 306 , 418 ]. The wood is used as fuel and as a source of charcoal by villagers[299 , 306 ]. It produces a good quality charcoal[299 ].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Coppice  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant mainly of the hot, tropical lowlands, succeeding in both humid and semi-arid areas[200 , 335 ]. It can also be found at elevations up to 2,300 metres in southern China. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 29°c, but can tolerate 14 - 35°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,500 - 2,500mm, but tolerates 700 - 4,200mm[418 ]. Emblic is a very easily grown plant, reported to thrive in regions that are too dry and on soil that is too poor for most other fruit crops[306 ]. Requires a position in full sun or part day shade, but is undemanding as to soil requirements so long as it is well-drained[200 , 306 ]. It can even succeed on alkaline soils, though in a highly alkaline soil (pH 8.0) nutritional deficiencies are evident[306 ]. For maximum productivity, the tree requires deep soil ranging from sandy loam to clay, light or heavy, and slightly acidic to slightly alkaline[306 ]. Plants seem to grow equally well under both arid and humid conditions[306 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 8, tolerating 5 - 8[418 ]. The tree is rather slow-growing and usually only bears fruit when 6 - 8 years old[418 ]. Seedlings take about 10 years to come into bearing[306 ]. The plant only produces flowers at a daylength between 12 - 13.5 hours[418 ]. Annual fruit yields may be about 15 - 25 kilos per tree[418 ]. Mature plants can yield 200 kilos of fruit per year[306 ]. Ripe fruits may be retained for several months on the tree without significant loss of quality. Because of this, a long period is available for picking the fruits for consumption[299 ]. The tree coppices well and pollards fairly well[299 ]. Coppiced shoots grow particularly vigorously, and coppicing is considered the system most suitable for the production and collection of tanbark on a commercial scale[299 ]. Usually plantations need much weeding because the thin crowns do not form a closed canopy[299 ]. There are some named varieties[301 ]. Emblic is fire resistant, and is one of the first trees to recover after a fire[299 , 418 ]. Plants are usually monoecious, but occasional dioecious forms are found. Flowering Time: Late Winter/Early Spring. Bloom Color: Chartreuse (Yellow-Green).

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - it does not store well and so is best sown as soon as it is ripe[303 ]. The seed is taken from over-ripe fruits, which are sun dried to facilitate removal of the stone, or are cut in half right through the stone. The extracted seeds are given the float test and 100% of those that sink will germinate. In 4 months, seedlings will have a stem diameter of 8 mm and can be budded or grafted if required[306 ]. Semi-hardwood cuttings, collected from the middle portions of vigorous shoots of young trees and planted in beds at a temperature of about 33?c, produce a high percentage of rooting, up to 84%[299 ]. Greenwood cuttings. Layering. Grafting.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Emblica, Indian Gooseberry, Amla, Aonla, Amloki, Myrobalan, Malacca, Nelli, Dhatri, Adiphala, Amala, Amalaka, Amalakamu, Amali, Ambal, Ambala, Ambla, Amla, Amlaki, Amlika, Amlokhi, Aonla, Aungra, Aunra, Avla, Awala, Awalkante, Awla, Balaka, Chohroshi, Dhatri, Gam so-lu, Ganlan, Hamlaithai, Indian gooseberry, Jahka chi, Kam tawt, Kantuet prei, Kaoxiameidiang, Kattuneli, Kayu laka, Kemlaka, Kik, Laka-laka, Mahanbo, Makam paun, Malacca tree, Malainelli, Malaka, Me rung, Melaka, Nelli, Pokok malaka, Rihaushi, Sanmopi, Seqe, Sii nya saa, Soh-mylleng, Sohlu, Sunhlu, Usirikai, Xicha, Zibya, aagra, aamla, aaunlesa, adiphala, ahalu, ainla, amala, amalaka, amalaki, amalaki;amrtaphala, amalekamu, amalku, amba, ambal, ambala, ambali, amblabaum, amble, ambli, amial, amla, amlaj, amlakhi, amlakhu, amlaki, amlaku, amlati, amli, amli, aonla, amlika, amluki, amraphalam, amrtaphala, amuleh, am?taphala, anala, anvala, anwala, aonla, aonli, arda, aula, aura, aurya, avala, avalkathi, avolkathi, bela, nelli, bhuiawali, chimbak, dharti-phala, dhatri, dhatriphala, dhatriphala, embali, emblic, emblic leafflower fruit, emblic myrobalan, emblic myrobelan, emblica myrobalans, emblika, fructus phyllanthi, ghwarbhet, gondhona, goose berry|nelli, groseillier de ceylan, harimnal, indian gooseberry, indian goosebery, indian-gooseberry, jurse, korosi, kyu-ru-ra, kyun, kora?kam, mirobalano, mi?utupala, myrobalan emblic, nallika, nelli, nelli va??al (dried fruit), nellikai, nellikayi, nellikka, nellikkai, nellikkay, nellikkay (fresh fruit), nellimu??i, nelí, phyllanthi fructus, phyllanthus emblica pericarp, phyllanthus emblica pericarp for use in thmp, pottadenollikayi, rikhiya, sohmyrlain., tausi, tebu, titi, topi amalagam, triphalam usirikai, tattiri, usiri, usirika, usirikayi, yu gan zi, yuganzi, amalaka, amalakam, amalaki (dried fruit), amalaki (fresh fruit pulp).

China ; Taiwan, Province of China; Bhutan; Cambodia; India; Indonesia; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia; Myanmar; Nepal; Philippines; Sri Lanka; Thailand, Africa, Andamans, Asia, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brazil, Burma, Cambodia, Central America, China, East Africa, Fiji, Hawaii, Himilayas, India, Indochina, Indonesia*, Laos, Malaysia*, Myanmar, Nepal, Northeastern India, Pacific, Pakistan, Philippines, Puerto Rico, SE Asia, South America, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Tibet, USA, Vietnam,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Subject : Phyllanthus emblica  
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