Falsa (Grewia asiatica)

Botanical Name :Grewia asiatica
Family: Malvaceae
Subfamily: Grewioideae
Genus: Grewia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malvales
Species: G. asiatica
syn. : Grewia asiatica Mast.
Common Name :Phalsa or Falsa

Habitat :Native to southern Asia from Pakistan east to Cambodia, and widely cultivated in other tropical countries. Grewia celtidifolia was initially considered a mere variety of Phalsa, but is now recognized as a distinct species.It has become naturalised and locally invasive in Australia and the Philippines.

Description:
A large, scraggly shrub or small tree to 15 ft (4.5 m) or more, the phalsa has long, slender, drooping branches, the young branchlets densely coated with hairs. The alternate, deciduous, widely spaced leaves are broadly heart-shaped or ovate, pointed at the apex, oblique at the base, up to 8 in (20 cm) long and 6 1/2 in (16.25 cm) wide, and coarsely toothed, with a light, whitish bloom on the underside. Small, orange-yellow flowers are borne in dense cymes in the leaf axils. The round fruits, on 1-in (2.5 cm) peduncles are produced in great numbers in open, branched clusters. Largest fruits are 1/2 to 5/8 in (1.25-1.6 cm) wide. The skin turns from green to purplish-red and finally dark-purple or nearly black. It is covered with a thin, whitish bloom and is thin, soft and tender. The soft, fibrous flesh is greenish-white stained with purplish-red near the skin and becoming suffused with this color as it progresses to overripeness. The flavor is pleasantly acid, somewhat grapelike. Large fruits have 2 hemispherical, hard, buff-colored seeds 3/16 in (5 mm) wide. Small fruits are single-seeded.

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Varities:The tall-growing wild plants bear acid fruits which are not relished. The dwarf, shrubby type, with a blend of sweet-and-acid in the best fruits, is cultivated.

Cultivation:
It is extensively cultivated for its sweet and sour acidic fruits, which are sold in the market during summer months under the name Falsa.
In India, the phalsa grows well up to an elevation of 3,000 ft (914 m). It can stand light frosts which cause only shedding of leaves.

The phalsa grows in most any soil–sand, clay or limestone–but rich loam improves fruit production, as does irrigation during the fruiting season and in dry periods, even though the tree is drought-tolerant. Generally, it is grown in marginal land close to city markets.

Propagation:
Seeds are the usual means of propagation and they germinate in 15 days. Ground-layers, treated with hormones, have been 50% successful; air-layers, 85%. Cuttings are difficult to root. Only 20% of semi-hardwood cuttings from spring flush, treated with 1,000 ppm NAA, and planted in July (in India) rooted and grew normally.

Edible Uses:
The fruits are  sweet & sower when ripen….
The pleasant sherbet or squash is prepared from the fruit pulp by mixing it with sugar and used as an astringent, stomachic and cooling agent.

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Constituents:
The flowers have been found to contain grewinol, a long chain keto alcohol, tetratricontane-22-ol-13-one. The seeds contain 5% of a bright-yellow oil containing 8.3% palmitic acid, 11.0% stearic acid, 13.4% oleic acid, 64.5% linoleic acid; 2.8% unsaponifiable.

Medicinal Uses:
The fruit is astringent and stomachic. When unripe, it alleviates inflammation and is administered in respiratory, cardiac and blood disorders, as well as in fever.

An infusion of the bark is given as a demulcent, febrifuge and treatment for diarrhea. The root bark is employed in treating rheumatism. The leaves are applied on skin eruptions and they are known to have antibiotic action.

The fruits allay thirst and burning sensations, and can reduce inflammations.These are said to be good for heart and blood disorders, fevers and diarrhoea. The fruit is also good for the troubles of throat. The unripe fruits remove vata, kapha and biliousness. The root bark is used by Santhal tribals for rheumatism. The stem bark is said to be used in refining sugar, for making ropes and its infusion is used as a demulcent. The leaves are used as an application to pustular eruptions. The buds are also prescribed by some physicians.

Other Uses:-

Leaves: The fresh leaves are valued as fodder.

Bark: The bark is used as a soap substitute in Burma. A mucilaginous extract of the bark is useful in clarifying sugar. Fiber extracted from the bark is made into rope.

Wood: The wood is yellow-white, fine-grained, strong and flexible. It is used for archers’ bows, spear handles, shingles and poles for carrying loads on the shoulders. Stems that are pruned off serve as garden poles and for basket-making.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grewia_asiatica
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/phalsa.html

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