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Growing Sherbet Berry / Phalsa: Grewia asiatica

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Overview
A member of the Mallow family, Malvaceae, the Grewia genus of plants has well over one hundred species.

Description
Form: Shrub or small tree.
Lifespan: Perennial.
Leaf retention: Deciduous.
Growth rate: Rapid.
Mature Size: 6-22' high, depending on variety.
Flowers: Small, five yellow petals and sepals, many yellow to orange stamens, in clusters.
Bloom: Late winter to early spring.
Self-pollinating: Yes. Additional plants will improve fruit set.
Years before fruiting: 1.
Fruit: Dark purple when ripe, 3/8-3/4" diameter, apple texture, sweet-sour grape-sherbet flavor, 1-2 seeds.
Nutritional values for 3.5 ounces: Vitamin A 37%, Vitamin C 24%, Calcium 13%.
Months for fruit to ripen: 3. The fruit are ripe when they are dark purple, possibly with a whitish blush, and are soft. They ripen a few at a time and require frequent harvesting.
Storage after harvest: The fruit can be refrigerated unwashed for up to 7 days.
Leaves: Ovate to heart-shaped, green.
Stems: Long, drooping, no thorns.
Roots: Densely fibrous, no tap root, not invasive.
Cultivars of Note:
Low growing dwarf types (Indian) are preferred over tall growing types for flavor, small seeds, and productivity.
Wildlife: Attracts a wide variety of pollinating insects, including bees and butterflies. Browsed by mammals.
Toxic / Danger: No.
Origin: Southern Asia, from Pakistan to Cambodia.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 9b-11. Young plants need protection below 32°F. Older plants may be hardy to 20°F.
Chill hours: None.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun to light shade.
Drought tolerant: Yes, but temperature dependent.
Water after becoming established: Deep water weekly when fruiting. Use ring dike irrigation. Containers need more frequent irrigation. Soil must be dry 2" deep before watering again. Do not over-water.
Soil: Well drained, moderate to high organic content, pH 6.1-6.5 (mildly acidic).
Fertilize: A slow release, 15-5-10 ratio is suggested. This plant is salt sensitive.
Mulch: Yes, to provide moisture retention and reduce heat stress.
Spacing: Place 6' apart when grown for fruit harvesting with severe winter pruning.
Planting: Can be grown in large containers and moved indoors in winter.
First Year Care: Protect from freezing.
Prune: Severe early-winter pruning to 3-4' height improves productivity. Flowers appear on new growth.
Litter: Leaf drop in late fall, early winter.
Propagation: Seed and layering. Cuttings are difficult to root.
Uses: Edible fruit. Leaves are used as an animal fodder. The flexible wood has many uses. The bark is used for soap and bark fiber for making rope.

Comments
Widely grown in Asia and sold in farmer's markets and by street vendors.



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By Asit K. Ghosh Thaumaturgist - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=10122998



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