Amla, Indian Gooseberry, Phyllanthus Emblica
It is a medium-sized deciduous tree belonging to the family Euphorbiaceae, commonly known as Indian gooseberry, emblic myrobalans, and Amla (in Hindi). Amla is an excellent source of vitamin c, hence it helps to boost immunity, metabolism and prevents viral and bacterial ailments, including cold and cough. It is the main ingredient in Chawanprash, an Ayurvedic concoction to boost the immune system.
The tree is small to medium in size, reaching 8 to 18 m in height, with a crooked trunk and spreading branches.
Ripening in autumn, the berries are harvested by hand after climbing to upper branches bearing the fruits. The taste of Indian gooseberry is sour, bitter and astringent, and it is quite fibrous. In India, it is common to eat gooseberries steeped in saltwater and turmeric to make the sour fruits palatable. It is also used to straighten hair.
The tree is considered sacred by Hindus as the Vishnu is believed to dwell here. The tree is worshipped on Amalaki Ekadashi.
In other Hindu myths, Aamla is said to be originated from the drops of Amrit which spilt on earth accidentally, due to the fight of Gods and Demons after sheer Sagar Manthan. And hence also this religious belief makes claims that it almost cures every disease and is also good in extending the longevity of life.
Soil and Climate
Light, as well as medium-heavy soils except for purely sandy soil, is ideal for amla cultivation. The tree is well adapted to dry regions and can also be grown in moderate alkaline soils.
Amla is generally propagated by shield budding. Budding is done on one-year-old seedlings with buds collected from superior varieties yielding big sized fruits. Older trees or poor yielders can be changed into superior types by top working.
The pits of 1 m3 are to be dug during May-June at a distance of 4.5 m x 4.5 m spacing and should be left for 15-20 days exposed to sunlight. Each pit should be filled with surface soil mixed with 15 kg farmyard manure and 0.5 kg of phosphorus before planting the budded seedling.
Young plants require watering during summer months at 15 days intervals till they are fully established. Watering of bearing plants is advised during the summer months at the bi-weekly interval.
Amla tree starts bearing after about 4-5 years of planting. The fruits are harvested during February when they become dull greenish-yellow from light green. The mature fruits are hard and they do not fall at gentle touch therefore vigorous shaking is required. Fruits can also be harvested using long bamboo poles attached with hooks.
Some of the common uses of amla fruit are as below:
- Amla strengthens the body, oust toxins from the body and improves the defence mechanism of the body.
- It is an essential vitamin to get better eyesight
- Massaging the head with amla oil, induces sound sleep and is good for hair.
- Wash eyes daily, in the cock-crow with amla water, soaked in water and drink the water to improve the eyesight and take out constipation
- Regulates Blood Sugar
- A very influential anti-inflammatory herb
- A wonderful antioxidant and a usual Source of Vitamin C. Amla helps scavenge free radicals
- Studies show that Amla helps inferior cholesterol
- Amla also helps uphold the functioning of the liver
- Increases Hemoglobin, Red blood cell count up
- Useful used for Cough, Bronchitis, Asthma
- Amla cleanses the maw, strengthens the teeth
- Its decoction is used in hyperacidity and with sugar as an anthelmintic. The presence of Amla resulted in enhanced cell survival, decrease free radical production and higher antioxidant levels similar to that of managed cells.