Botanical Name: Dovyalis abyssinica
Synonyms: Aberia abyssinica (A.Rich.) Clos Dovyalis engleri Gilg Flacourtia obtusata Hochst. ex A.Rich. Hydnoc
Common Names: Abyssinian Gooseberry
Habitat: Dovyalis abyssinica is native to Africa (Ethiopia south to South Africa) and southern Asia (India, Sri Lanka). Some are cultivated for their fruit. It grows in the highland forest over 1,800 metres. Rain-forest to riparian forest and scrub; dry evergreen forest; sometimes in open wooded grassland; semi-evergreen or deciduous bushland; rocky limestone slopes; at elevations from 600 – 3,050 metres.
Dovyalis abyssinica or commonly is an evergreen, dioecious, spiny shrub or small tree with a rounded crown. It reaches about 6-10 m in height with trunk diameter of about 20 cm. They are dense, with sharp, 3–6 cm long stem spines in the leaf axils. Buds at the base of the spine produce clusters of alternately arranged simple ovate leaves 3–10 cm long.
The leaves are oval and slender, with wavy or jagged edges.
. They are dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants. The fruit is an edible, yellow to purple globose berry 2–4 cm diameter, containing several small seeds. They are very juicy and with an acidic flavour.
Abyssinian gooseberry can be grown by seed or cuttings.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.
A plant of the hot, dry, tropics, though it also succeeds in areas of higher rainfall. Grows best in a fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soil. Dislikes calcareous soils. Plants begin bearing when about 4 – 5 years old from seed. Dioecious – both male and female plants must be grown if fruit is required. One male is sufficient for about 30 female plants.
Through Propagation seeds – Layering. Graft or shield-bud desirable varieties on to seedling rootstocks.
Fruits are edible, eaten – raw or cooked. The fruit has a thin, tender skin and a juicy melting flesh with an aroma and flavour faintly suggestive of apricots. When fully ripe it makes a very agreeable jelly. The fruit is about 25mm in diameter. Roots and stems are eaten in a tonic soup.
The leaves are pounded, soaked in water and the liquid taken as a treatment for indigestion. The roots are used for treating indigestion and VD. The unsaturated fatty acid (erucic acid) in Abyssinian oil keeps the scalp healthy and soothes scalp discomfort. This lightweight oil does not build up on the scalp, thus keeping the roots healthy.
Other Uses: The wood is hard. It is used for tool handles, spoons and bedsteads. The wood is used for fuel.
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