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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. Grewia asiatica is the most widely cultivated of the species considered edible.

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, clustered.
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 3-7 days. They are very perishable and transport poorly.
Leaves: Large, ovate to heart-shaped, dull gray-green, toothed margins, prominent veins.
Stems: Long, drooping, no thorns.
Roots: Densely fibrous, no tap root, not invasive.
Cultivars of Note:
The low growing dwarf types native to India are cultivated because of their flavor, small seeds, and productivity. The taller wild varieties are not considered good tasting.
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.
By Asit K. Ghosh Thaumaturgist - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=10122998

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 less so at higher temperatures.
Water after becoming established: Deep water weekly when fruiting. Use ring dike irrigation. Containers need more frequent irrigation. The 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: Use an organic fertilizer. This plant is salt sensitive.
Mulch: Yes, to provide moisture retention and reduce heat stress.
Spacing: Place 6' apart when grown for fruit harvesting and given a 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 a 3-4' height improves productivity. Flowers appear on new growth.
Litter: Leaf drop in late fall to early winter.
Propagation: Layering is very successful. Seeds are, at most, 50% successful at producing a normal seedling. Cuttings are very difficult to root.
Uses: Edible fruit. The leaves are used as an animal fodder. The flexible wood has many uses. The bark is used for soap and the bark fiber for making rope.

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


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