Species Guide: Rare Fruit Trees


A cermai tree with its upright branches. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Common name: Star Gooseberry, Malay Gooseberry, Otaheite Gooseberry

Malay name: Cermai

Scientific name: Phyllanthus acidus (L.) Skeels

Conservation status: Cultivated, Naturalised, Introduced (Brazil)


A shrub or small tree of 2-9 m tall. Leaves are egg-shaped and alternately arranged. Flowers are arranged in long clusters. Fruits are round, lobed, pale yellow when ripe.

The leaf arrangement resembles that of bilimbi (Averrhoa bilimbi) tree. Photo by Goh Shang Ming

Habit: Perennial tree

Cultivation: It is planted by seeds, buddings, greenwood cuttings or air-layering

Ecological function: The flowers of this tree attract pollinators. It is a caterpillar food plant.

Pollinator: Bees

Soil: Fertile loamy soils

Moisture: Moist, well-drained soils

Shade: No shade, part day shade

Use: This tree is planted as an ornamental plant. The fruits and young leaves of this tree are edible. Its bark is used as a tanning agent in India.

By ShangMing

A plant lover. I like small, medium, gigantic, ordinary, exotic, local, foreign plants. Just because they thrive to stand out.