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Dovyalis hebecarpa Kitembilla   Salicaceae

Kitembilla, Ketembilla, Dovyalis hebecarpa

Kitembilla, Ketembilla, Dovyalis hebecarpa

Dovyalis hebecarpa, the Kitembilla or Ketembilla, is a plant in the genus Dovyalis, native to Sri Lanka and southern India.

It is a shrub or small tree growing to 6m tall, with sharp, 36 cm long stem spines in the leaf axils. The leaves are alternately arranged, simple broad lanceolate, 510 cm long and 13 cm broad, with an entire or finely toothed margin.

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.

The fruit is an edible dark purple globose berry 23 cm diameter, very juicy with an acidic flavour, and containing several small seeds. 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 selected for being thornless (making harvesting easier) and larger fruit.

Small fruit to 1" around with brown velvet skin and deep red acidic pulp. Trees bear fruits in great quantities. The juicy fruit is usually used in drinks and preserves.

Description: Small tree to 15-20ft. Fruiting occurs from spring to early summer. In some areas tree will bear multiple crops throughout the year.

Hardiness: Hardy to the upper 20's Fahrenheit.Kitembilla, Ketembilla, Dovyalis hebecarpa

Growing Environment: Grows very quickly under ideal conditions. Plants will tolerate dry and wet soils, although lots of moisture is necessary for proper fruit development.

Propagation: By seeds.

Uses: Consumed fresh, either as a flavoring for beverages, or in preserves. Fruits can be eaten out of hand but are usually not for the pulp is very acidic.

Native Range: Native to Sri Lanka. Today the ketembilla is occasionally cultivated for juice making.