Ceylon gooseberry facts and health benefits

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Ceylon gooseberry facts and health benefits

Ceylon gooseberry Quick Facts
Name: Ceylon gooseberry
Scientific Name: Dovyalis hebecarpa
Origin Native to Sri Lanka and southern India
Colors Green turning to orangey brown to maroon-purple
Shapes Globose, berry up to 2.5 cm diameter, velvety pubescent
Flesh colors Purple-red
Taste Slightly sweeter, sour and astringent.
Calories 63 Kcal./cup
Major nutrients Vitamin C (108.89%)
Total dietary Fiber (38.42%)
Vitamin B2 (30.77%)
Iron (15.00%)
Phosphorus (3.71%)
More facts about Ceylon gooseberry
Dovyalis hebecarpa, with common names Ceylon gooseberry, ketembilla, and kitambilla, is a plant in the genus Dovyalis, native to Sri Lanka and southern India. The fruit are often eaten fresh, or made into jam. Some cultivars have been selected for being thorn less (making harvesting easier) and for larger fruit. Apart from Ceylon gooseberry it is also known as Ketembilla, Kitembilla, kei apple, Puerto Rican cranberries, and tropical apricots. The tree takes about 2-3 years to fruit. Fruit is quite juicy, extremely acidic and is mostly used for making preserves, jelly, jam and juice. 


Ceylon gooseberry is a shrub or small, dioecious perennial tree growing to 4–6 m high with long, slender, arching, wide-spreading branches. The trunk and lower branches have sharp, 4 cm long spines. Leaves are alternate, simple, and elliptic to ovate, 7–10 cm long, 2–3.5 cm wide, wavy-margined, gray-green, finely velvety, with pinkish, woolly petioles, and thin in texture. The flowers are inconspicuous, solitary or clustered, with no petals. It is dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants, though some female plants are parthenogenetic. Flowers are greenish-yellow, apetalous, 1.25 cm across and axillary.


Ceylon gooseberry is globose, berry up to 2.5 cm diameter, velvety pubescent. Fruit is green when young turning to orangey brown to maroon-purple when mature. Fruit has thin bitter skin coated with short, grayish-green, velvety hairs, unpleasant in the mouth that encloses purple-red colored flesh. The fruit normally has acidic flavor and slightly sweeter also sour and astringent in taste.  The pulp is very juicy, extremely acid, purple-red, enclosing 9–12 pubescent seeds about 6 mm long. Every fruit contains roughly 5-9 small hairy seeds. Since Ceylon gooseberry has acidic flavor it is mostly used in making preserves, jelly, jam and juice. Kitembilla fruit, which taste similar to a gooseberry (they are sometimes called “Ceylon Gooseberry”), are often eaten fresh, or made into jam. Some cultivars have been chosen for being thorn less (making harvesting easier) and larger fruit.


Ceylon gooseberry is native to Sri Lanka, previously known as Ceylon. Doctor David Fairchild brought it to the United States around the turn of the 20th century, despite the fact that he didn’t care for the fruit’s flavor. From there it journeyed to Hawaii where it was proposed for use as a shrub in hedgerows, and wound up becoming an important part of the island chain’s economy and cuisine. The Ceylon gooseberry is also grown in Puerto Rico, where it has become naturalized in the country’s landscape, as well as various parts of South America, South Africa, and India. It is also found in Israeli orchards.  Today, the fruit grows in Israel, Florida and Hawaii of the US, and limited parts of Central America, and South Africa. It is also naturalized in Puerto Rico.

Nutritional Value

Apart from their slightly sweeter, sour and astringent taste, Ceylon gooseberry is a good source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Consuming 100 gram of Ceylon gooseberry offers 98 mg of Vitamin C, 14.6 g of Total dietary Fiber, 0.4 mg of Vitamin B2, 1.2 mg of Iron, 26 mg of Phosphorus, 1.2 g of Protein, 0.8 g of Total Fat, 0.3 mg of Vitamin B3, 0.02 mg of Vitamin B1, 13 mg of Calcium.

How to eat

  • The very sour and astringent fruits are almost too acid to eat raw and this is compounded by its velvety hairs which are offensive in the mouth.
  • Fruits are excellent for making preserves, jelly, jam and juice.
  • In Hawaii, there are recipes for juice, spiced jelly, ketembilla-papaya jam, ketembilla-guava jelly, and ketembilla-apple butter.
  • Ketembilla is respected mainly as a source of jelly for export in Israel.
  • Since the pulp of the fruit is very juicy, it is either used as a flavoring for beverages or for preserves.


Other Traditional benefits of Ceylon gooseberry

  • The fruit has a high content of vitamin C which is essential for healing wounds and for repairing and maintaining bones and teeth.

Other Facts

  • Dovyalis hebecarpa is also planted as an ornamental or as wind-break.



















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