Characteristics of Emblic / Malacca Tree (Phyllanthus emblica) in the Wild

Phyllanthus emblica
Emblic or Indian Gooseberry sometimes called the Malacca tree in English speaking countries, is a species of deciduous tree from the Phyllanthaceae family. This tree has edible fruit and is called by the same name as the tree “Malacca”.

In India, malacca fruit is eaten fresh or cooked in various dishes. Meanwhile, in Sumatra, Indonesia, the inner skin is used to give a bitter taste to the traditional fish soup stock known as “Holat”.

HISTORY OF MALACCA TREE
In the Buddhist tradition, half a malacca fruit was the last gift to the Buddha’s Sangha by the great Indian emperor Ashoka. This is illustrated in Ashokavadana in the following verses:

“A great donor, the human ruler, the eminent Maurya Ashoka, has changed from being the ruler of Jambudvipa (continent) to being a half myrobalan ruler” (Strong, 1983, p. 99).

 
In Theravada Buddhism, malacca is said to have been used as a tree for attaining enlightenment, or Bodhi by the first twenty Buddhas named Phussa Buddha.

Malacca fruit is known to contain high amounts of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and has a bitter taste that may come from high-density ellagitannins, such as emblicanin A 37%, emblicanin B 33%, punigluconin 12%, and pedunculagin 14%, also contains punicafolin and phyllanemblinin A, other phyllanemblin polyphenols, such as flavonoids, kaempferol, ellagic acid, and gallic acid.

 

Characteristics of Malacca Leaf

Phyllanthus emblica Leaf
Source : flickr.com/Shubhada Nikharge

The leaves are simple, subsessile, bright green, and resemble pinnate leaves.

 

Characteristics of Malacca Flower

Phyllanthus emblica Flower
Source : flickr.com/Lalithamba

The flowers are greenish-yellow.

 

Characteristics of Malacca Fruit

Phyllanthus emblica Fruit
Source : flickr.com/G I H A N I

Malacca fruit round, greenish-yellow, smooth, and hard skin, with six vertical lines. The fruit ripens in fall or near the rainy season.

 

Characteristics of Malacca Tree

Phyllanthus emblica Tree
Source : flickr.com/Tony Rodd

Malacca trees grow small, only reaching 1-6 meters in height and sometimes drop leaves at certain times.

 
BENEFITS OF MALACCA TREE

All parts of the malacca tree are used in a variety of Ayurvedic medicine, including the fruit, seeds, leaves, roots, bark, and flowers.

In Ayurvedic polyherbal formulations, malacca is a common constituent, and most prominent in the main ingredient of an ancient herb called Chyawanprash.

The extract is commonly used to make inks, shampoos, and hair oils. The high content of tannins in malacca fruit acts as a mordant for fixing dyes in fabrics.

 

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