Emblica officinalis Gaertn.
A monoecious glabrous or pubescent deciduous tree, up to 15-20 in. Bark grey, smooth. Wood red, hard. Intermediate shoots up to 20 cm long, solitary or fascicled, resembling pinnate leaves but usually floriferous towards the base, falling as a unit; short shoots not strongly developed. Cataphylls triangular. lanceolate, 2 mm long, acuminate, brownish-black. Foliage-leaves up to 80-150 per shoot, closely distiehous; petioles 0.5 mm long; leaf-blades linear-oblong, 0.5-1.6 x 0.1-0.3 cm., usually obtuse, sometimes acute or subacute, somewhat obliquely rounded to subcordate at the base, margin thickened and inrolled, firmly chartaceous, lateral nerves 4-9 pairs, sometimes indistinct, light green above, paler and somewhat greyish beneath. Stipules of the cataphylls triangular-ovate, 1.5 mm long, acuminate, brownish-black; those of the leaves lanceolate, 0.7 mm long, reddish-brown. Proximal nodes barren, leafless, next ♂, then with ♂ & ♀ flowers, distally barren again but leafy. Male flowers: pedicels slender, 1-2 mm long; sepals 6, oblong-oblanceolate, 1.5-2 x 0.5-0.7 mm, obtuse or rounded, entire, yellowish-green with a pale hyaline margin; disc of 6 small clavate glands or 0; stamens 3, the filaments completely connate into a short terete column, anthers sessile, distinct, erect, oblong, apiculate, 0.8 mm long, the sacs parallel, longitudinally dehiscent. Female flowers subsessile; sepals thicker than the ♂ and somewhat denticulate, otherwise similar; disc urceolate, 1.5 mm high, completely enclosing the ovary, 6-ribbed, lacerate at the top; ovary ovoid, 3-celled, c. 1 mm diam., smooth; styles 3, stout, fleshy, c. 4 mm long, united at the base, bipartite, the segments flattened, spreading, sometimes bifid. Fruit. subglobose, c. 2.5 cm diam. when fresh, smooth, succulent, greenish or yellowish-white; endocarp massive, woody, 6-ridged, tardily dehiscent, c. 2 mm thick. Seeds somewhat unequal, trigonous or plano-convex, 4-6 x 2.5-3 x 2-3 mm, 3 smooth, dark chestnut-brown.
Fl. Per.: March-May; Fr. Per.: September-November.
Holotype: A sterile specimen cultivated in Uppsala in Hb. Linn., No. 1105/11 (L INN).
Distribution: Pakistan, throughout India, Sri Lanka and east to S. China and W. Malesia. Wild in the foothills of the Himalayas and cultivated in the plains; 2000'/610 m. - 4500'/1370 m.
The fruits are probably the richest known natural source of Vitamin C, and are frequently used in making pickles, preserves and jellies.